Monthly Archives: June 2014

Episode 54: Letting Go

Sometimes you just have to let go. Brian’s been writing well, but Ben’s giving up on exercise, Jon might be giving up on a novel, and adult YA fans might need to let go of childhood. The conversation sets Jon off on a “larger diagnostic of our culture,” which he tries to keep from becoming a rant, but you can’t hold back the tide. In the midst of all this loss, how can one stay grounded? Try taking a little off the top with David Ebenbach’s “We’ll Finish When We’re Done.”

Reading Discussed

  • David Ebenbach’s “We’ll Finish When We’re Done” is at AGNI Online.
  • Unfortunately for Jon’s novel-in-progress set in the gritty, meth-addled Midwest, between Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone and the work of gritty, Midwestern realists like Bonnie Jo Campbell, Frank Bill and Donald Ray Pollock, there’s not a lot left to say.
  • Jon may have been out of Indiana for too long to write about it, but from time to time he still finds himself humming this song in the shower.
  • Chappelles have been known to quit things — or have they?
  • Ruth Graham’s “Against YA” article in Slate triggered a backlash from shameless YA readers…. and with a clickbait title like that, perhaps that was the point. Maybe follow @SavedYouAClick next time.
  • In weeks of traveling around independent bookstores, Jon has seen an awful lot of The Fault in our Stars sales displays.
  • Jon pointed out that books like Natchez Burning could be marketed as YA if they didn’t have so many old people in them.
  • The discussion of the merits of YA literature isn’t a new one. Michelle Dean had an insightful take on the topic in The Millions back when Harry Potter was all the rage.
  • Is a spy novel any less of an escape for an adult reader than a YA book?
  • The next match in the literary elimination tournament: Tuck Everlasting vs. Middlemarch!
  • An incomplete list of things that irritate Jon: grown men wearing sweatpants, adults playing with RC cars, tech companies, the divorce rate, lobbyists, talking horses, and — above all — baby boomers.
  • Apparently some of the gentlemen of the greater Richmond area did not read the newspaper article in which Jon laid out his anti-postpubescent-sweatpants stance.
  • Not everyone agrees with Jon, though. Midway through this New York Times Magazine article, we learn that Jets head coach (and Ben’s personal hero) Rex Ryan is perfectly comfortable going out in public in what he refers to as “the dress sweats.”
  • The ethos of David Ebenbach’s story reminded Brian of Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford.
  • If you like magical short fiction, also check out WITTScast Episode 43, in which the guys discussed Marie Potoczny’s story “Fat.”

Episode 53: Reading Wild Card

Books: Like TV, but without having to wait for the installation guy. Though they used to do it every episode, it’s been a while since the WITTScasters dug in and unpacked what they’re reading lately. What wonders abound since then? Wooden noses! Fleeting youth! And Mongols, Mongols, Mongols! The boys also discuss the criteria for keeping books on your shelf even if you’ve never (and may never) read them. Finally, they bask in the dusky glow of Dan Leach’s story “The Day Getting Dark.”

Reading Discussed

  • Swing on by Drafthorse to read Dan Leach’s “The Day Getting Dark.” But if they try to sell you pencils or vitamins, just walk away.
  • Kelly Link’s ethereal story collection Stranger Things Happen is a longtime resident of Brian’s bookshelf that finally got called up to the show.
  • Ben can now recap the entire course of human civilization after finally finishing Ian Morris’ Why the West Rules–For Now. Go ahead. Ask him anything.
  • On a roll, Ben also finished Andrew Blossom’s collection I’ve Got a Message for You and You’re Not Going to Like It. For a taste, check out episode 49, in which the boys discussed “A Word from the Chimpanzees,” which is included in the collection.
  • Blossom’s work reminds Jon of Latin-American writers and Bruno Schulz, among others.
  • A plot summary of James Salter’s novel Light Years won’t do it justice, so Jon argues its merits by praising its sentences and the fact that it goddamn crackles.
  • Ben is a serial tsundokur.
  • While Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero is rarely cracked in the Sealy household, it remains a staple on the bookshelf. The same can’t be said for this one (lightly used copy available for anyone who’s interested).
  • Life hack: This but for embarrassing books.
  • How long could you deal with this stuck in your tape player?
  • Even if you don’t love stories about academics or creative writing, you’d better love Wonder Boys. If you don’t, expect an angry visit from Brian or Vernon Hardapple.