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.
On today's show, we mostly take turns reading passages that moved us from Virginia Woolf's tremendous novel about London in the wake of the great war, since there's nothing we could say that the book doesn't convey more artfully. At the 33 minute mark, we are joined by David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, to talk about his newest project, MARSHAWN LYNCH: A HISTORY, a documentary film that explores the significance of Marshawn Lynch's refusal to talk to the media. The film, assembled from hundreds of video clips, argues for Lynch's silence as a protest against a racist society and sports-media complex that nevertheless profits off black bodies. For more information about the film, or to find out when it might screen in your area, go to https://www.lynch-a-history.com/. We are grateful to David for coming on the podcast.
We staked out opposite corners of the ring for this one: Adam holding firm to the notion that the narrator is the world's most gullible dolt; Jesse convinced that the narrator is a psycho killer whose reality grows more unstable with every just-remembered detail. Who won? The truth is neither of us. In the end we were rope-a-doped into inarticulacy by Ford's bottomless backstory and untraceable character motivations. One tender mercy to cherish: we dispensed with basketball talk this week, since neither of us cares a whit about USA Basketball.
Next time we jump ahead to the 1920s, with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.
We've made it to the nineteen aughts, the terminus of our journey into the past, and we've chosen a book that beautifully captures that first decade of the twentieth century. Wharton's 1905 novel stands as an all-time great, drawing on tendencies of the nineteenth century novel but gesturing toward the future of the novel as well. Given that we're in an absolute dead spot on the NBA calendar, we basically just shoot the shit for ten minutes or so, starting around the hour mark. The highlight of this chat is each of us trying to name three athletes in another sport (baseball for Adam and football for Jesse). Enjoy?
Next time, we'll be discussing Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier. Also, buy Adam's book!: https://www.amazon.com/Hotel-Neversink-Adam-OFallon-Price/dp/1947793349
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.