The guys all enjoyed Joseph Scapellato’s “Drunk in Texas, Two New Friends Talked Horses,” the discussion of which leads them to wonder whether people should write about their life experience, and whether people even need to have life experience. Then Jon threatens (yet again) to head off to war, and Brian and Ben admit that they might have accidentally Rand Pauled some of their favorite books.
November means three things: Thanksgiving, mustaches, and National Novel Writing Month, the last of which the WITTScasters discuss in this episode (including the plot of Ben’s NaNoWriMo novel from his younger days). They also touch on moments so perfect you know right away they’ll show up in your fiction and whether publishing an anthology is a legitimate career stepping stone before putting on their waders and visiting the swampland of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Birds of a Lesser Paradise.”
- Megan Mayhew Bergman’s story “Birds of a Lesser Paradise” appears online in Narrative Magazine. (The site requires an email address and password to sign in, but it’s free, and you get access to lots of great stories.) It’s also the title story from her 2012 collection.
- Got a cool story, bro? Then sign up at nanowrimo.org and write that sucker. The site also lets you track your progress and interact with other writers.
- Anne Lamott’s essay “Shitty First Drafts” (from her collection of craft essays, Bird By Bird) is all but literary canon. If you looked real hard, you could probably find a copy of it online.
- Ben is a modern-day Vonnegut. And how did Vonnegut write? Let’s ask him.
- Jon’s thoughts on writing short stories.
- Faulkner, Conrad… Sealy.
- George Eliot’s Middlemarch is “one of the few English books written for grown-up people,” according to Virginia Woolf and also somebody at Purdue.
- Brian as James Patterson? Wonder what grade he would give that.
- Are you a 16-year-old girl? Read this. 23? Read some of that. 30? You’re ready for George Eliot. You’re welcome, ladies.
- After a week’s worth of struggles (including searching for the wrong title), Brian found Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. But now it’ll have to battle for time with David Shoemaker’s The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling.
- Ben is finding that A Confederacy of Dunces is just as good the second time around.
- Something you may not know about Jon: He likes to read. Right now, he’s working on Max Hastings’ Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945, Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, and advance copies of James Scott’s The Kept and Richard Powers’ Orfeo. He’s also dipping into a few books about Navy SEALS, including Kevin Dockery’s history of the early years.
- Jon also checked out the new documentary on J.D. Salinger (which has a companion book). Here’s the picture of him writing during the war that Jon mentioned. That one’s a lot more flattering than this picture, the story behind which is here.
- Here’s the video that inspired Brian’s latest story. (Rocky was fine, kids.)
- The unfortunately named Nutzy the Flying Squirrel.
- Best of Tin House is an anthology everyone can get behind (especially Brian).
- Jon wonders if there are any roads left to travel for Akashic’s “noir” anthology series.
Look at this! The boys enjoyed some Upslope Craft Lager while recording in one place for the first time in WITTScast history. Here they are in Brian’s basement, where the boys share their thoughts on Boulder, Colorado, and the many writerly (and alcoholic) haunts we visited, from the University of Colorado campus to the Boulder Book Store.
- We did not see the Stanley Hotel (of The Shining), but it’s nearby in Estes Park.
- Upslope Brewing will make you want to move to Boulder.
- So will the Boulder Book Store on Pearl Street, where Brian picked up Tom Perrotta’s Nine Inches, Jon picked up Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, and Ben picked up Alan Lightman’s The Diagnosis and Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker.
- On the airplane, Ben enjoyed the sexual heat in Aimee Bender’s The Girl With the Flammable Skirt.
- One-word titles are a nifty. Examples include Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Stephen King’s Misery, Philip Roth’s Indignation, and Mark Powell’s Prodigals.
- At Hub City’s Writing in Place conference, Jon discovered that Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind Than Home, has an admirable work ethic.
- Shout-out to Patricia Henley, who advocates you write stories only you can tell.
- Harper Lee is the paradigm of a one-hit wonder.
- Authors-in-translation often seem like one-hit wonders. For instance, Milan Kundera or maybe Orhan Pamuk.
- Which book in your favorite author’s oeuvre would you translate? Jon would translate Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, but thinks The Road would sell better.
- Ben would create a double-book of George Saunders’s Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (sic).
Hey look! The UC Boulder library!
And Jon and Brian discuss life, liberty, et cetera.
It’s not easy to find a lover who understands how important your writing time is, or a friend who appreciates the triumph of a few hours of good revision. The guys discuss the value of surrounding yourself with people who support your writing lifestyle. Then it’s on to other challenges, like finding a Northern Flicker in Central Park, in Emma Straub’s “Marjorie and the Birds.”