Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 68: Kenzaburo Oe, A Personal Matter

This week we have another Tom pick, perhaps the best-known novel by Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe, first published in 1964 (Oe won the Nobel Prize thirty years later). The semi-autobiographical novel follows Bird, a young father deciding whether to save his son–born with what appears to be a severe birth defect–or allow him to die.

a-personal-matter book jacket

We talk about the book’s rather graphic–and sometimes violent–sex scenes, as well as its portrayal of hospitals and medical professionals. Plus we’ve got another edition of our Sticks and Stones segment. And raccoon facts!

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. Thanks for listening! We’d love your feedback on what we talked about. Feel free to leave a comment here on the site, send us an email, or hit us up on Twitter.

Oh! And we have t-shirts, which are now available for pre-order in our store.


Download Episode 68 (right-click, save-as)


Episode 67: Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It

This week’s book is a Mike pick: an essay collection about travel, displacement, love, loss, and occasional psychedelic drugs. We talk about the necessary artifice of narration, and why readers so often fail to acknowledge it; how travel experiences are often more about the traveler than the place itself; about dark humor and bad habits. We also bring back our Sticks and Stones segment, make an important announcement, and get lost in a Groundhog Day-style feedback loop.


As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe and never miss another installment. While you’re over at iTunes, it would be great if you’d leave us a quick review and a star rating, which helps us reach new listeners. Also: tell your friends! (unless they’re jerks; we don’t need any jerks)

You can find out more about Todd Kaneko’s The Dead Wrestler Elegies at Curbside Splendor. You can find out more about Hostel Detroit at its website. You can learn more about our upcoming live event on our Twitter feed, and probably on Facebook pretty soon.

This week’s end-of-show music is from the new Strand of Oaks album Heal.

As always, we welcome your feedback on what we talked about. And, as always, thanks for listening!


Download Episode 67 (right-click, save-as)