Podcasts get me through long drives or flights, and I've been taking a lot of trips lately—too many to be entertained simply by the once-weekly Slate Culture Gabfests or monthly(ish) Audio Book Clubs that I usually listen to.
While prowling iTunes for something new to listen to with a literary angle, I stumbled upon something that will keep me busy on drives for a long while: The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. If you are a book nerd (and if you're reading this, you probably are!) it is must-listen. Not only do you get to listen to your favorite modern authors reading their favorite short story from The New Yorker archives, you get to hear them discuss it afterward with fiction editor Deborah Treisman. It's a bite-sized literature class.
Some of the stories have been misses for me, but most of them are wonderful and a few have become favorites. I've discovered a few authors I want to read more of, like Niccolo Tucci and Sylvia Townsend Warner. And I finally understood the Alice Munro love after hearing Lauren Groff read the powerful and haunting "Axis." The archives go back to 2007, so there's a lot more to discover. Thank goodness, because I have two more trips coming up this month!
Here are a few other stories that you shouldn't miss.
Tony Earley reads "Love" by William Maxwell
David Sedaris reads "Roy Spivey" by Miranda July
Nicole Krauss reads "My Father's Last Escape" by Bruno Schulz
Téa Obreht reads "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog" by Stephanie Vaughn
David Bezmozgis reads "The Colonel Says I Love You" by Sergei Dovlatov
Jennifer Egan reads "The Reverse Bug" by Lore Segal
What literary podcasts do you love?
We recently heard a story on the CBC show Day 6 with Brent Bambury that we found quite intriguing, amusing, and a bit disturbing: e-books that are produced with similar titles to bestsellers to lure the unwary into buying them. Examples include the I am the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and Thirty-Five Shades of Grey.
We almost feel ashamed dignifying these productions with italicization and mention in our blog. They are not good; they are not even trying to be good. They just want to glom on to another author’s success and leech some sales by virtue of title similarity. Since titles can’t, in general, be copyrighted, all this is perfectly legal. Or maybe not—one expert in the piece suggests prosecution may be possible on grounds of fraud.
Another phenomenon mentioned in the story are books that are nothing more than compilations of Wikipedia articles and blogs on some important topic, slapped together without regard to narrative arc or even coherence, and sold as authoritative works.
Such are the dangers of the Wild West of modern, online publishing. Maybe Kathi and I will go ahead with our plan to write A Farewell to Barns.
Have you been cheated by someone selling you a bogus e-book? Tell us your story.
Our latest BookPage podcast covers Wendy McClure's The Wilder Life, our top pick for nonfiction in April. This charming memoir from a blogger-turned-writer chronicles her quest to visit all of the places that nomadic children's writer Laura Ingalls Wilder called home during her long lifetime—and used as inspiration for her Little House series, a literary touchstone for generations of women.
From the Little House in the Big Woods to the Shores of Silver Lake, all three of our editors enjoyed McClure's journey. Listen in and see for yourself! (Or right-click to download to your computer.)
Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap came out in 2008, but it's still got us talking. In the process of suggesting picks for our own book clubs, my coworkers and I realized that this smart, conversation-starting story of four stay-at-home moms is perfect material for a podcast.
The novel centers on Amy, Karen, Jill and Roberta, four women who live in (and around) New York City and who, for various reason, have decided to stay home with their kids.
BookPage interviewed Wolitzer when the novel came out, and she said then that she wrote The Ten-Year Nap "as a way to examine the multiple reasons women stay away or want to go back."
In this podcast, BookPage editors Abby, Kate, Trisha and I chat about some of the oh-so-real themes in the novel (like not living up to the expectations you've set for yourself); why this is a prime pick for book clubs; and whether Wolitzer writes a fair and balanced portrayal of women's lives. Enjoy!
What book has got you talking—or thinking—lately? Visit BookPage on iTunes for some of our recent favorites.
Already read The Ten-Year Nap? Wolitzer's new novel, The Uncoupling, comes out April 5—and a little bird tells me it's our next top pick for fiction.
We chatted about Franzen's portrayal of relationships, the controversial autobiography section in the middle of the novel, what "freedom" means to the characters—and much more. Check it out now:
What are your thoughts on Freedom? Is it the Great American Novel? A disappointment? Would you recommend it to a friend?
Still don't know whether you should read Freedom? Hear from Franzen himself in our interview with the author.
Rushed through Mockingjay and don't have anyone to talk to? Or: Want to listen to other reactions on the fate of Panem, President Snow and that pesky little Gale vs. Peeta plotline?
Trisha (Web Editor), Kate (Nonfiction Editor) and I (Eliza—Assistant Web Editor) discuss all things Mockingjay in a brand new podcast. We talk about the major points of tension in the book, how Katniss's character has progressed in the series, and where Mockingjay rates in terms of violence and romance. Toward the end of our conversation we chat about the Hunger Games movie and speculate on the "next big thing" in teen fiction.
There are major plot spoilers in this podcast, but they don't start until the 9-minute mark. (There's also some major word fumbling in the first minute or so of the recording, but what can I say? It's hard to keep your thoughts straight when you're talking about something as exciting as a Suzanne Collins book.) The 35-minute mark 'til the end is free of spoilers.
Listen away, and share your reactions in the comments section.
Yesterday we gave you a chance to win a free copy of Gail Caldwell's memoir Let's Take the Long Way Home (and it's not too late to enter, if you haven't already). Today, we're sharing a conversation about our reactions to the book, which goes on sale today.
In the second BookPage podcast, we discuss the friendship portrayed in Let's Take the Long Way Home, Caldwell's writing style and why this memoir will appeal to book clubs. Also, we talk about why a story about friendship and grief is powerful, hopeful—and not at all sappy.
Did our conversation make you eager to pick up the book? If you've already read a review copy of the memoir, do you agree with our assessments? Why or why not?
Also on The Book Case: Listen to BookPage editors discuss Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil.
Briefly, Beatrice and Virgil is about Henry, a novelist whose life parallels Martel’s. Henry comes to know a taxidermist—also named Henry—who is writing a play. The play stars Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and a howler monkey, and Henry (the novelist) comes to see their story as an allegory for the Holocaust.
Warning: There are spoilers in the podcast, so listen at your own risk!
Should we interpret Beatrice and Virgil as an allegory—and if so, what does it mean? How should we react to the "Games for Gustav" in the final section?
Will Life of Pi fans be disappointed with this novel? Why has critical response from major review outlets and book blogs been so varied? Will Beatrice and Virgil become a favorite for book clubs?
Why has the famous pear scene so captured the hearts of readers? Does Martel manage to represent the Holocaust in an innovative way? What does Beatrice and Virgil teach us about content vs. sales potential, in the eyes of a publisher?
Is Beatrice and Virgil a "successful" novel?
How did you react to Beatrice and Virgil? Tell us in the comments.