Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

1 Comment

Episode 117: Winter of Wayback, 1935 (John Dickson Carr)

This week we set our literary time machine to 1935, a year that’s considered part of the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” That led us to author John Dickson Carr, who became famous as a writer of mystery and detective novels, particularly what’s now known as “locked room” mysteries.

Here’s a picture of him looking all mid-30’s dapper.


Other stuff happened in 1935, too. Some weird-sounding Australian animal went extinct. Philadelphia politics got real ugly. And monkeys ran amok in the streets of New York City, leading to headlines like this one.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 7.56.10 PM

A real wacky year. And a very entertaining episode! Which we would say more about here, except a) you should just click on the player thingy below and listen to it, and b) one of us went out last night, ostensibly to “have a couple beers” and watch a televised college basketball game with a few friends, and was then talked into more beers, and even more beers, and two changes of venue, the second of which found your correspondent dancing to club remixes–“bangers,” we think the kids call them–at a Philadelphia gay bar. It was a good time, and yet also a reminder of why we rarely stay out till last call these days. Anyway: enjoy the episode!

Stream Episode 117:

Download Episode 117 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening! Come back next week, and tell your literature-loving friends!

1 Comment

Episode 111: Winter of Wayback, 1922 (Best American Short Stories, Ring Lardner)

Did you know that The Best American Short Stories anthology existed in 1922? Ok, probably you did know that, but did you know that in 1922 the editor of the Best American Short Stories anthology, Edward O’Brien, gave every single story published in America a star rating, and then tallied up the stars to give every American literary magazine a ranking? Let’s take just a moment to imagine how much work that would be. Let’s take another moment to imagine how much consternation and hand-wringing would happen in the lit world if that sort of thing happened today. The outraged tweets alone could be printed out, taped end-to-end, and then used as a bridge to move our society to the moon.


Collier’s Weekly: the Hobart of its day.

Out of the 1922 BASS anthology, we chose Ring Lardner’s “The Golden Honeymoon,” since we’d both heard of Lardner, but neither of us could remember having read much, or any, of his fiction. One of us quite enjoyed the story, with its portrayal of a grumpy old cheapskate on vacation with his wife, while the other of us expressed an opinion that was wrong.

Incidentally, you can read the entire 1922 BASS anthology via the Internet Archive, because truly we are living in magical times. Enjoy it now, humans! Soon Trump will be king, the earth will be consumed by either ice or fire, and if we’re lucky the moon will turn out to be a decently hospitable place to live. As long as podcasts still exist, and Golden Girls reruns, we’ll all pull through.

Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh, right: this week’s episode. And 1922! A year that included at least one tugboat tragedy, and one very famous Hollywood murder. Also: a series of events that led one of us to this:


Anyway, you should listen to the episode. It’s the cat’s pajamas! (That’s 1922 slang for “on fleek.”) Just click on the little player thingy below to stream it, or download the mp3 file to play on your computer or mobile device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can download older episodes and also subscribe (for free) to get new Book Fights delivered to you each week. While you’re there, leave us a rating and review, which helps us to reach new listeners.

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 111:

Download Episode 111 (right-click, save-as)