There's a real pioneer spirit to this edition of the podcast, which was recorded en plein air in a remote mountain location along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Nat sounds -- including, at one point, the crackle of rifle shots -- lend background authenticity to our discussion first of Cather's novel, and then, at the 43 minute mark, of the many westward-empire-coursing moves that re-charted the NBA landscape in the early weeks of free agency.
Next up: the first decade of the 1900s, and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.
We evaluate the flat and round prospects in the 2019 NBA Draft, after a discussion of Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster's a droll and delightful collection of lectures he gave at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1927. (NB: our draft big boards starts at the 45 minute mark.)
Next up, the nineteen-teens and that staple of high school reading lists, Willa Cather's My Antonia.
For our 1930s book, we read the 1934 debut novel of John O'Hara. We discuss how successful O'Hara is in toggling back and forth between his book's two chief interests: that of the demise of a wealthy car dealer on the one hand and, on the other, his nearly topological rendering of the fictional town of Gibbsville, where the action is set.
At the 47:30 mark, we check in on the NBA Finals, with forthright mea culpas for our faulty past predictions, a forthright admission that we have no idea where the series is headed, and a forthright appreciation of the instantly-legendary "Board Man Gets Paid" oral history of Kahwi Leonard's days at San Diego State (https://theathletic.com/1007038/2019/06/03/the-board-man-gets-paid-an-oral-history-of-kawhi-leonards-college-days/). By the next time we record, there will be a champion ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Next up: the 1920s, and--mirabile dictu--a non-fiction book! We'll be digging into E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel (https://epdf.pub/aspects-of-the-novel.html). Download a copy. Also, we will be unveiling our Draft Big Boards!
Here's an odd book. Green's style is all his own, delightful and perverse, marked by clipped adverbs and a disdain for interiority. It's a talky book; like much of Green's work, the action takes place mainly in dialogue. Set among the English servants at a castle in Ireland during World War II, Loving is funny and confounding and a bit horny. It seems at times like it shouldn't work, which makes it all the more satisfying when it does.
At the 54 minute mark, we pivot to the NBA playoffs, to remember the Blazers and Sixers, ponder the still-in-progress Eastern Conference Finals, and savor the fun quotient of the Durant-less Warriors.
Up next: The 1930s, with John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra.
We begin in the 1950s, with Evan S. Connell's Mrs. Bridge, a sneakily moving novel comprised of short, comic vignettes in the life of a Kansas City housewife.
At the 47 minute mark, we turn to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. We check in on Warriors-Rockets, Raptors-Sixers, Bucks-Celtics and Nuggets-Blazers, before finishing with an exaltation of Damian Lillard, the flat-out coolest player in the league.
Next up: the 1940s, with Henry Green's Loving.
In the first pod recorded in Jesse's distinctly unsoundproofed new office, we tackle Muriel Spark's wonderful 1961 novella The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
At the 42 minute mark, Lynwood Robinson joins us to predict the various playoff series.
Apologies to Charles Chace, who we wanted to call in for his takes on the 3-6 matchups; we realized too late that the recorder was paused. Timecodes for particular series:
00:49-00:52 Warriors vs Clippers
00:52-00:54 Bucks vs Pistons
00:54-01:00 Nuggets vs Spurs
01:00-01:08 Raptors vs Magic
(01:03-1:07 Sidebar discussion of All NBA 3rd Team forwards)
01:08-01:12 Trailblazers vs Thunder
01:12-01:16 76ers vs Nets
01:16-01:23 Rockets vs Jazz
01:23-01:28 Celtics vs Pacers
01:28-end Conference Finals and Finals predictions
Next up: The 1950s, and Evan S. Connell's Mrs. Bridge
This book is great! Highly recommended. And for the first 20 minutes or so we remain focused on a discussion of what it does so expertly. After that we pursue like cats after a laser pointer a long digression of what autofiction means and whether it's a genre distinction that holds value. It may be of interest; it may be utterly tedious. Our apologies if you were hoping for a more fulsome analysis of Adler's book. To repeat, it's great and should be read!
At the 53 minute mark, we again bemoan the overlong NBA regular season, which is mercifully nearing its end, and look ahead to potential playoff matchups.
This book has it all: busted shoelaces, advances in drinking straw design, a subtle and supple close reading of the intimacies and formalities of the late 20th Century American workplace. It's delightful and poignant and only 132 pages long! We chew it over, and at the 53 minute mark -- you'll know by the chime of music that plays! -- we move to a short discussion of Zion's exploding sneaker and the senseless logic of the NBA gap year rule, which may finally and mercifully be coming to an end.
We ponder the depths of the satire and self-awareness in Andrew Martin's 2018 debut novel Early Work. Fifty minutes in, pivoting off a scene in the book in which its characters watch James Harden in the 2015 Western Conference Finals, we discuss Harden's astonishing level of play over the last month, and whether that means he'll be usurping the MVP crown from Giannis come season's end.