Monthly Archives: October 2014

Episode 63: Party Time

The WITTScasters miss the social aspect of writing: readings, conferences, parties, after-parties, etc. Or wait… maybe they just miss their youth. How to wrestle with heavy questions like these? Why not ask a talking bird! The title character of Pete Duval’s “I, Budgie” helps the guys put things in perspective.

Reading Discussed

      • Pete Duval’s  “I, Budgie” is available online at Witness and was included on the notables list in the Best American Short Stories 2012.
      • Who’s lonlier… people at the AWP conference or people at Comi-Con?
      • The basketball season is starting… do you have your Nuggets sweatpants yet?
      • As Jon’s The Whiskey Baron book tour comes to a close, he’s realizing that his hostel days might be behind him. He’s glad to be back in his office, revising his next book, safe from the dangers of the road: Ukranians, bros from Jersey, Axe body spray, rainy highways, and Ebola.
      • AWP is in early April next year, but it’s in Minneapolis, and Brian already knows what that means.
      • Yes, the Vikings really did let the clock run out on their pick in the 2003 NFL draft.
      • If Brian has it his way, his wedding will be a combination of this and this.
      • Did Brian’s discussion of Night of the Living Dead make you want to (re)watch it? Looks like you can find it here.
      • Hopefully, “I, Budgie” will be part of a new collection from Pete Duval. For now, you can check out his 2004 book, Rear View.

Episode 62: You Have Always Written Before and You Will Write Now

This episode finds Ben on a streak of creative fertility, Brian in a place of creative despair, and Jon trying to spin literary gold from the straw of pulpy fiction. Luckily for them, the answers to all their questions may be found in Julio Cortázar’s story “Blow-Up,” if they (well, if Ben and Jon) can figure out what it all means.

Reading Discussed

  • Ideally, everyone should read Julio Cortázar’s “Blow-Up,” and possibly even attempt his novel Hopscotch, as Jon has.
  • Ben is exploring billions and billions of creative possibilities by mining Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and digging into the late professor’s time at Cornell in William Poundstone’s biography Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos.
  • Is reality intruding on your writing life? Take a few cues from Hemingway (but for god’s sake, don’t take all his cues).
  • There’s a lot to be said for lengthy creative gestation. See: Cold Mountain‘s Charles Frazier or The Long Home‘s William Gay.
  • The story Ben thought might’ve been Laura van den Berg was actually from another WITTScast author, Jamie Quatro. “Sinkhole” appeared in both Quatro’s collection I Want to Show You More and in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013.
  • Jon’s been ruminating on how to write a page-turner with substance, with the help of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks and our old pal James Wood’s review of that book in The New Yorker.
  • He’s also been loving Zia Haider Rahman’s novel In the Light of What We Know, set in increasingly historic 2008.
  • If you want to write, considering following Patton Oswalt’s lead and just quit Twitter. A few times, if you have to.
  • If you happen to be in Oswego, New York, and have mastered time travel, Ben highly recommends Don’t Blame Anyone, a visual performance of several Cortázar stores. He also picked through Blow-Up: And Other Stories to prepare.
  • In its meta-fictive elements, “Blow-Up” compares — though a lot more favorably — to Gordon Lish’s story “In the District, Into the Bargain,” which we read on Episode 48.