Part 3: Writing and Lit Podcasts, or the Terrifying Specter of People Talking About the “Writing Life”

(I love podcasts. I listen around 2 or 3 hours a day between my commute, time at the gym, and household chores. This is part 3 of 4.)

These are all podcasts that focus on the world of books: writing, publishing, reviewing, teaching, all that. I’m always a bit leery of “industry” podcasts, and for every show on this list, there a a couple others that I listened to a half dozen episodes of before giving up for one reason or another.

Book Fight has a special place in my heart. It’s the first lit podcast I started listening to after stumbling on it in iTunes when I was living in Beijing. The co-hosts are both writers, creative writing professors at Temple, Iowa grads, and editors of the eternally clever mid-brow literary magazine Barrelhouse, so they tend to bring a diverse perspective to things. The show is hilarious and informative, and in addition to going through their entire back catalog I’ve even re-listened to selected episodes. I’m not sure how much this reflects on the objective quality of the podcast compared to how well my sense of aesthetics and humor and my hatred of “relatability” syncs up with Mike and Tom’s, but there you go.

Otherppl is an interview show that reminds me of Stern or Maron -but with a much more likeable host- focused on the world of indie literature. Brad Listi runs the show as well as his literary network The Nervous Breakdown. While Listi’s monologues are consistently great, the quality of each shows is usually determined by the guest. Turns out, some authors -even very good authors- aren’t good in front of a mic. Fair enough.

Literary Disco is especially informative. The three hosts are all coming from some of the most widely disparate backgrounds possible in the literary community (screenwriter, book reviewer, and a Mark Twain House employee for starters, and they each wear a few more respective hats) but they know each other well and create some great conversations. They talk about current happenings in the world of letters and their professional lives, justify randomly selected books from their bookshelves to one another, and talk about a book they have all recently read.

A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment  is the recently created project of authors Sherman Alexie and Jess Walters, both reasonable successful authors. They read works-in-progress and discuss, giving an interesting look inside the creative production of contemporary working authors. Alexie is a great story writer (a bit hit-and-miss for me, but his hits are always strong) and it’s educational to listen to them going over things. They’re also old friends, and they do the “two-dudes-talking” format really well. I would never have expected this reading his stories, but Alexie reminds me very strongly of a Native American, liberal version of my dad.


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