Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 39: Helen DeWitt, Lightning Rods

This week’s a Mike pick, so you know it’s gonna be good! A friend recommended Helen DeWitt about a year ago, and Mike finally got around to picking up her second novel, Lightning Rods, to give it a whirl. Her first book, The Last Samurai, is the better known (and more universally praised) but it’s also really thick, and sometimes Mike is lazy, and this seemed like an easier entry point. The book is less a traditional novel than a working-out of a (purposefully) ridiculous premise: what would happen if … you know what? Just listen to the episode, and we’ll explain it all.

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Talking points include: sticks (both by themselves and in combination with stones), sexual harassment in the workplace, soup viscosity, proper workshop behavior, glory holes, and the ideal material for toilet seats. Fair warning: we’re even more full of digressions this week than usual, which we’ll blame on recording this just before we left for summer vacation.

As always, the episode is available to stream here on the site, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe, so that you never miss another new one. Also, please support our sponsor, Powell’s Books, which we might be visiting in person as you listen to this week’s installment of the show. They’ve got new books, used books, everything a book-loving person could want. And if you reach their site through ours, by clicking on any of the Powell’s links scattered around the page (including that lovely image of the novel embedded above) we’ll get a small percentage of every dollar you spend. Win win!

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Download Episode 39

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