Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 135: Summer of Second Chances, Harlan Ellison (“I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”)

Welcome to a new season of Book Fight, in which we revisit writers we’ve panned in the past and give their work another go. Last spring, we didn’t much care for Ellison’s spite-fueled essay, “The Three Most Important Things in Life.” Now, we’ve read one of his most lauded stories, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.” Will it change our assessment of Ellison, or will we double down on the hate?

Here’s a picture of Ellison just chillaxing at home.


We also talk about when you should give your own work a second (or a third, or a fourth) chance. How do you know when to keep revising, and when to give up on a piece and move on? Plus, another installment of Raccoon News!

As always, you can stream the episode below, or download it from the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening!

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Writers Ask: Hurtin’ Feelings and Burnin’ Bridges

To MFA or not to MFA: That is the question. Or, one of the questions for this week’s episode of Writers Ask. With the proliferation of graduate creative writing programs, does the degree bring diminishing returns? How important is it to attend a “top tier” program? What can you expect to get out of the experience of devoting 2-3 years to writing? Will it help you build a career?

Also, we explain our beef with flash fiction, and share our pet peeves about writers and social media. Plus, Tom burns a bridge, and Mike tries to find some life lessons in past failures.

As always, you can stream the episode here, or download the mp3 file. Or, check us out in the iTunes store, where you can download past episodes for free and subscribe, so you never miss another update. While you’re there, please consider leaving us a quick review, which helps us reach new listeners.


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Writers Ask: Marry Rich

What are the best jobs for writers? What’s with writers who don’t like to read? And why does it make Mike so mad when people talk about literature like it’s a commodity? We also discuss naps, and why Tom lives like an old person. Talking points include: back to school, John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, Type-A doctors, night watchmen, revolution, and sleeping on planes.

Got questions for us? Email us. Or hit us up on Twitter, @Book_Fight.

Stream the episode here:

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Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can download back episodes and subscribe to new ones (all for free). And if you want to buy some books, how about clicking on the little Powell’s badge at the bottom of this post? All your purchases will help support the show through our partnership with Powell’s, a great indie bookstore you should definitely support, regardless of how you feel about us.

Thanks for listening! We’re always happy to hear your feedback. You can email us, or just leave a note in the comments.

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Writers Ask: Book Fight Island

This week, we tackle questions about how to promote your book without annoying people, whether writing can be taught, and if you should worry too much about your stylistic influences. Talking points include: Facebook baby photos, giving out healthy treats for Halloween, John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, Tom’s love of animals, and The Lockhorns, America’s least happy cartoon couple. Continue reading