Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


AWP 2014: Reports From the Writer-Industrial Complex

While Mike skipped out on this year’s AWP conference, Tom has made the voyage to Seattle, and will be filing periodic updates from inside the belly of the beast. He’ll have recaps of the day’s best and worst events, plus brief interviews with writers and editors. As new episodes drop we’ll update this post. Or you can make it easy on yourself and subscribe to the podcast feed–in iTunes, on Stitcher, or through Instacast or whatever other podcast app you prefer. Then you’ll get each new episode as soon as it’s available.

Special Report #1: Joe Killiany

Tom talks to Barrelhouse editor Joe Killiany about what’s to love and what’s to hate about AWP, writers (and ex-presidents) Joe wants to fight, and beard maintenance.


Download AWP Special Report #1 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #2: Tom Williams

Tom (McAllister) talks to another Tom (Williams) about his novel, Don’t Start Me Talkin’, what he looks forward to each year about AWP, and conference-goers’ book-buying habits. Barrelhouse editor Dave Housley also jumps onto the mic to ask Tom about slam poetry, and his arm-wrestling prowess.


Download Special Report #2 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #3: Aaron Burch

Tom talks with Hobart editor Aaron Burch, for some reason.


Download Special Report #3 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #4: Erin Fitzgerald

Tom sits down with writer and friend-of-Barrelhouse Erin Fitzgerald to talk flash fiction, unlikeable characters, and the complicated worlds of fan fiction.


Download Special Report #4 (right-click, save-as)

Non-AWP Special Report #1: Lee Klein

Mike updates from Philadelphia on what it’s like to NOT be at AWP. Also, he’s joined by Lee Klein, author of Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck, to talk Austrian novelists and The Silver Linings Playbook.


Download Non-AWP Special Report #1

AWP Special Report #5: Katherine Hill

Tom talks with fan favorite Katherine Hill (author of The Violet Hour) about getting old, AWP parties, creepy dudes, dogs, kissing, and confrontational panels.


Download AWP Special Report #5


Episode 52: Michael Wayne Hampton, Romance for Delinquents

This week’s book is a story collection from Foxhead Books, and features small-town characters whose lives have fallen short of their dreams. We talk about the difference between generous and stereotypical portrayals of small-town Southern characters, how to put together a story collection, and why Americans keep shooting each other.


If you’re interested in the workshops we mention on this week’s show: the bad news is the poetry workshop is sold out; the good news is there are still spots available for fiction and nonfiction. You can register here. And check out the Barrelhouse site, where you can order Issue 12, get information about our upcoming books, and register for our annual D.C. writers’ conference (so much Barrelhouse stuff!)

While we’re bossing you around about clicking things on the internet, we’d be remiss not to mention our regular sponsor, Powell’s Books, where you can shop online while supporting an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore. If you use any of the links around our site to get to the Powell’s page, we’ll get a little cut from every purchase you make (whether it’s something we’ve recommended or not). So far those referrals have bought us some much-appreciated beers, and we’re looking forward to more. You read, we drink, everybody wins!

As always, you can stream the episode for free on our site, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another installment.

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 52 (right-click, save-as)

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Episode 25: Svetislav Basara

This week’s book, a Dalkey Archive translation of the Serbian writer Svetislav Basara’s Chinese Letter (Eastern European Literature), basically landed in Tom’s lap, and we figured we might as well read it. Luckily, the book turned out to be crazy in all the best possible ways. Talking points include: surrealism, humor as rapid-fire truth telling, white slave merchants, Raymond Queneau, and whether it’s ever okay for a book reviewer to use the phrase “show, don’t tell.” Also, Mike ambushes Tom a little about The Silver Linings Playbook, forcing him to finally explain why he hates that book and will never see the movie.


Our episode this week is sponsored by Outpost 19, a press with offices in New York and San Francisco, and specifically by Matthew Vollmer’s Inscriptions for Headstones. Each short piece in Vollmer’s collection is a single sentence, meant as a headstone inscription, and the constraint of form opens up really cool avenues for Vollmer to explore. You can hear Mike read one of the pieces at the 36:00 mark, and we pretty much dare you to listen to that and then NOT go buy the book immediately. Click on the link above, or the image below, to check it out on the Powell’s site, where it was a featured indie book (and if you buy it from Powell’s, we’ll get a small cut of the purchase price, so win-win).


If you don’t believe us, you can read a review of Vollmer’s book here, or an excerpt here. See? We like the book so much we’re willing to link to Hobart; every now and then they accidentally get something right.

As always, you can stream the episode here on the site, or you can download the mp3 file. Or, click the iTunes link to download it (for free) in iTunes, or subscribe to the show and never miss another episode. While you’re in the iTunes store, it would be really great if you’d leave us a brief review and a rating, as those help us reach more new listeners. Thanks!

Click to stream:

Download Episode 25: Svetislav Basara, Chinese Letter (right-click, save-as)