Maybe quarantine wasn't the best time to hunker down inside a 600-page book called Freedom that tracks the hill-of-beans problems of three unhappy midlifers across the Bush era. Nevertheless, we persisted. The result is a mandatorily spaced pod recorded en plein air on Adam's front porch, with shimmering wind and truck noise as accompaniment. Enjoy! Next up: Sally Rooney's much-discussed debut Conversations with Friends.
In what may be the last pod we record face-to-face for a while, we dig into Joseph O'Neill's wonderful 2008 novel about marriage, cricket, and 9/11. Its portrait of a man flailing about for a proper response to a world in crisis chimed eerily with the vibe in America at the moment, as we enter the first full week of social distancing to combat coronavirus. At least Hans, the book's narrator, can fall back on the comforts and rhythms of cricket, a luxury not afforded to us in this time of across-the-board cancellations of sports, including the NBA. (We move from discussing the book to discussing the suspension of the NBA season at the 54 minute mark.) Next up, the final station in our journey across the century: Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM. Til then, stay safe and healthy, everyone.
No basketball talk today, the better to make room for a friendly sparring contest over Donna Tartt's 1992 debut novel. It's a book dear to Adam's heart across multiple readings; it's also one that Jesse, reading it for the first time, thoroughly disliked. Our discussion is repetitive and seemingly endless (very much like the book in question jkjk.) In honor of the large volume of scotch the characters drink in this book, here's a drinking game: take a shot every time we use the words "bucolic" or "fiefdom."
Next time: the 2000s, and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.
We'd like to thank our listeners Matthew Ballou and Jason Ahuja, who suggested this week's book. The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake was first published in 1983, a few years after Pancake committed suicide at the age of 26. We discuss the way Pancake writes about his home state of West Virginia, and our sadness that he didn't live to extend the promise of these early stories.
37 minutes in, we recap the biggest deals of the NBA trade deadline. From there we're moved to lament the lonesome fate of the center in today's NBA. From Houston going all small-ball all the time, to Philly gaslighting Joel Embiid, to rebounding savant Andre Drummond being traded for a bag of popcorn, there's never been a worse time to be seven feet tall.
Next up, the 1990s and Donna Tartt's The Secret History.
Today we discuss Sula, Toni Morrison's 1973 follow-up to her debut novel The Bluest Eye, before pivoting at the 50 minute mark to talk about some of the things we've found most surprising about this NBA season, including the shockingly fun Oklahoma City Thunder, the frisky Memphis Grizzlies, and the better-than-expected Los Angeles Lakers.
Join us next time as we read -- by request! -- The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake, our selection from the 1980s.
We'd like to extend a big thanks to listener Jeff Schroeck, who suggested we pick up Coover's 1968 fantasy-baseball fantasia as our selection from the 1960s. It was weird and smart and provoked a wide array of thoughts about postmodernism (both as a literary movement and as an operating condition of the second half of the twentieth century and beyond), which we tried to explore and examine in this episode. (Book suggestions are always welcome, by the way. If you too would like to hear us fundamentally misunderstand and make unsupportable claims about a book you dearly admire, please don't hesitate to email us or tweet at Adam with your titles!)
At the one hour mark, we go over some trades that might shore up the rosters of the best teams in the league, to mark the start of the race to the trade deadline.
Apologies to audiophiles out there: due to a badly placed microphone, Jesse sounds a bit distant and room tone-y. We fixed it for the NBA chat.
Next up: the 1970s, and Toni Morrison's Sula.
We tarry cheerfully in the obscure and creepy corridors of Shirley Jackson's late novels, sites of psychic ambiguity and authorial (and architectural!) precision. Then, at the 46 minute mark, we assess the credibility of various trends of the young NBA season, as well as use the phrase "round into form" countless times.
Next up, the postmodern 60s, and Robert Coover's orthographically complex (at least in title) novel The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. Join us!
Here at long last is the second half of our recent podstravaganza, featuring Charles Chace and all of our misguided pre-season predictions. Feast your ears on all the things we were wrong about! Thanks to Charles for coming in (and bringing his fancy microphone and shock mount to boot.) We hope to have him back in later on in the season when we can further revel in our collective wrongness.
Next up on the book side: the 1950s, and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.
Recorded as part of a three-hour podstravaganza earlier this week, here's our discussion of Malcolm Lowry's daunting, forbidding, and rewarding 1947 novel. The rest of the podcast, in which we preview the newborn NBA season with our friend Charles Chace, is still being edited and will be released soon. Going forward on the books side, we have finally made it past the shoals of Modernism! Next up is the 1950s, and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.
For our 1930s episode, situated as it is between Mrs. Dalloway in the 1920s and Under the Volcano in the 40s, we decided to linger in the shadow of Modernism awhile longer. But rather than read an emblematic novel from the decade, we wanted instead to think about Modernism's impact on poetry. Where did it come from, in what ways did it break with traditional poetic forms, and to what extent can its effects still be felt on poetry today? We were lucky to be joined by the poet and academic Emma Catherine Perry, who previously came on the podcast to discuss Claudia Rankine's Citizen, and who graciously acted as our guide through this dense thicket.
Some of the poems that come up in the course of this conversation include:
Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein
The Cantos of Ezra Pound
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
The Book of the Dead by Muriel Rukeyser
Paterson by William Carlos Williams
On Being Numerous by George Poppen
It was a fascinating and illuminating experience, and we are immensely grateful to Emma for the opportunity to talk about these poems in depth. Next up: the return in a few weeks of the NBA regular season and Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano.