In this second installment of the Short Corner, our biweekly series in which we read a short story instead of a novel, we look at Donald Barthelme's "Concerning the Bodyguard," as well as Barthelme's style more generally. At the 38 minute mark, we switch over to the Draft Lottery, which took place this week, and try and figure out who teams will select based on what they need most. Join us next week for our discussion of Claudia Rankine's Citizen and in two weeks when we read Lorrie Moore's "You're Ugly, Too."
Does art have any political efficacy? What does it mean to have a "profound experience of art?" Are plots overrated in novels? Can the Spurs win without Kawhi? (Bear with us, we recorded this before Game 6.) These are just some of the questions raised in this installment of the Fan's Notes podcast. We discuss Ben Lerner's terrifically funny novel for the first 53 minutes, then switch over to check in on where some of the second round series stand. Next week we'll be reading Donald Barthelme's short story "Concerning The Bodyguard," and in two weeks we'll chat about Claudia Rankine's Citizen. Join us for those!
We're suffering the Round 2 doldrums, with a bunch of series that (at least at the time of recording) seem pretty uncompetitive. But before we get there (i.e. the 46 minute mark,) we pore over Alice Munro's story "Carried Away," which was originally published in The New Yorker. This is the first of our episodes in which we focus in on a single short story; we'll continue to do this every other week at least throughout the playoffs. Next week we're back with Ben Lerner's novel Leaving The Atocha Station, and the week after that we'll read Donald Barthelme's "Concerning the Bodyguard," which can be found online. Join us!
It's a transitional period pod today, as we find ourselves midway through the first round of the playoffs, and reading Transit, the middle book in Rachel Cusk's proposed trilogy centered around an absurdly passive protagonist. We parse the limits of recessive narrators and marvel at Cusk's intelligence and knack for turning out well-crafted sentences.
Please note: we'll be podding weekly throughout the playoffs! In the off weeks between novels, we'll choose a short story to read and discuss. So track down a copy of Alice Munro's Carried Away online and join us for the discussion next week!
The playoffs are finally here! And we figured there was no better book to help us understand the psychological tedium of the NBA season than the first volume of My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard's epic of Scandinavian brooding. We discuss the structural use of deep boredom on the reader, whether the book is artful or artless, and ponder why it became such a hit worldwide. At the ~40 min mark, we switch over to preview the various matchups in the first round of the playoffs, which are mostly dismal. But hey, it's the playoffs! Join us in two weeks to discuss Rachel Cusk's Transit and look ahead to the second round of the playoffs.
It's a young man's pod today, as we delve into the often unpleasant psyche of Nathaniel P, the protagonist of Adelle Waldman's debut novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. We perform a full asshole autopsy on Nate to see if he's got any redeemable qualities. On the basketball side, we wax effusive on the surprisingly high level of basketball in this year's NCAA tournament and look ahead to the Final Four matchups. Join us in two weeks to talk about Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle in conjunction with the start of the NBA Playoffs.
After weeks of judicious editing, we've finally managed to get our epically long and rambling gabfest with our good friend and former UNC Tarheel Basketball player Lynwood Robinson down to a publishable length. We had to leave lots of great stuff on the cutting room floor this time around, but Lynwood has generously agreed to return at a later date to pick up right where we left off. Until then, enjoy this free-flowing conversation about basketball's alien test, what it was like playing with Michael Jordan on the 1982 title-winning team, and why Chapel Hill needs a better class of seafood restaurant.
We recorded this episode on Edward St. Aubyn's cycle of Patrick Melrose novels before the news broke this week that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing him in an upcoming Showtime series. (Spoilers aplenty herein.) We ostensibly focused on Never Mind, the first of these novellas, but found it hard not to refer to the full scope of the series in our discussion of St. Aubyn and his fictional alter ego. On the basketball side, we break down the blockbuster trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to join Anthony Davis in New Orleans and express our frustration at Boston's refusal to make any moves to strengthen their squad at the deadline. Please note: we are still editing our lengthy basketball chat with our friend Lynwood Robinson, but look for that to come out soon, and our next book will be Adelle Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Today we go all the way upriver into the depths of madness/basketball greatness with a look into Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella about depravity moral decay in turn-of-the-century Congo. Our discussion touches on what Conrad really means by the phrase 'heart of darkness' (and why he seems afraid to say so), whether Apocalypse Now has sapped the book's power in our culture, and if it's possible to square its anti-colonialist streak with its reprehensible depictions of Africans. Then we pivot to the NBA, where we continue to be amazed night-in and night-out by the individual performances of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and others. Who among them deserves to be MVP, if the season ended today? Or should it go to LeBron or Giannis or Chris Paul? The list goes on and on.
No basketball talk today, as we devote the full hour to one of the big books of 2016, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. We are joined by our friend Ben Felton to unpack the ways in which Whitehead re-imagines America during the time of slavery, and what this book has to say about the America we're still living in. For our next pod, we'll be returning to our normal format, with a discussion of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, as well as a look at the state of the MVP race in the NBA as we near the midpoint of the season.