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The Library Police Podcast

For many years now, and much to the consternation of our partners, my friend Dietrich Stogner and I have gotten together and talked (and talked) about pop culture - yes, movies and music, but especially about books. Dietrich and I have always had very similar taste in books, and it's been fun to get each other interested in authors and then have someone to talk to about them. As time has gone on, Dietrich and I have both ended up in careers related to books and writing. I, of course, am a high school English teacher, and Dietrich has become a freelance writer, writing articles for magazines, journals, and websites everywhere, and doing quite well with it.

All of which brings me to our podcast, The Library Police, which is the result of our decision to start taking those talks and recording them for public consumption. We discuss what we're reading now, pick a topic to analyze and pick apart, and then talk for a bit about other stuff we're enjoying, including TV, movies, and music. The site's main home will be at thelibrarypolice.com, but this page is set up to give you a nice single-page link to all of the podcasts for your convenience.

What's more, thanks to our producer Larry Sterling, we've got a nice presence on social media as well. First off, we have a Facebook fan page that links to episodes, literary news, discussion posts, and lots more. And if you're not so much into Facebook, check out our Twitter feed (@LibraryPigs) that's full of links, news, updates, and more.

Of course, you can subscribe to the podcast via our RSS feed or through iTunes, but if you're looking for an archive, feel free to use the menu below to choose an episode and jump right in!

If you'd like to contact us, the official podcast e-mail address is questions@thelibrarypolice.com. You can also drop me a line at clydeumney@gmail.com if you'd like, especially if there are issue with the archives here.

Episode 1-50:

Episode 51-100:
Episode 101+:
Killer Nashville Interviews:

 

 

Killer Nashville 2014: Panel
Discussion

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Killer Nashville 2014: The Pros and Cons of Writing a Series

0:00 - 55:46

The Pros and Cons of Writing a Series: This year, the four Library Pigs sit down to discuss the pros and cons of writing a series with a live audience at the 2014 Killer Nashville writer's conference. Josh discusses the authors that have managed to link their books without falling into the pitfalls of required reading, Rachel talks about companion novels and other unorthodox series, Dietrich laments the hesitation that comes with beginning a massive series, and Chris rages about the obsessive need to produce trilogies and more while standalone novels do quite well. They take a few questions from the audience regarding adaptations, series that have begun to drag, and more. We'd like to thank the entire Killer Nashville staff and volunteers for inviting us, most notably the inestimable Beth Terrell. Regular episodes will resume next week, but we hope you've enjoyed our week of Killer Nashville.

 

Killer Nashville 2014: Donald Bain

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Donald Bain

0:00 - 14:05

Donald Bain: For the fourth and final interview from the 2014 Killer Nashville, Josh and Dietrich sit down with legendary ghost writer Donald Bain. From the "Murder, She Wrote" cozy novels to dark biographies with a victim of the infamous MKUltra CIA brainwashing program, Bain has spent decades demonstrating his astonishing range and writing ability. It's a wonderful interview with a remarkable author, and a great way to wind up our interviews for this conference.

 

Killer Nashville 2014: Logan L. Masterson

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Logan L. Masterson

0:00 - 13:43

Logan L. Masterson: One of the coolest things about meeting authors while doing this podcast is getting to know someone before they find themselves published, and sitting back down with them after their book has hit the shelves. Two years ago, we were introduced to horror writer Logan Masterson, whose Lovecraftian-style prose and sense of dry humor caught our attention immediately. Masterson now has multiple published short stories and a novella on the shelves, and was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss the challenges of bringing Lovecraft to a modern audience, the challenges of being a "pulp" author, and his plans for the future.

 

Killer Nashville 2014: Catriona McPherson

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Catriona McPherson

0:00 - 17:17

Catriona McPherson: Want to get our attention? Cheerfully tell a story about a sex scene in your book which involves your mother's disapproving face. That was one of a dozen comments that had us sprinting to the table after Catriona McPherson's Killer Nashville panel, eager to sit down with her. In the short time we were able to talk with her, she discusses what actually constitutes a bothersome number of corpses, the bizarre way she realized that her book might not be a "cozy", and much more. It's a wonderful talk with one of the most delightful people we've had a chance to meet. It doesn't hurt that she's an amazing and insightful author, too.

 

Killer Nashville 2014: Graham Brown

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Graham Brown

0:00 - 22:31

Graham Brown: It's that time of year again, as the Library Police descend upon Killer Nashville like a swarm of interview-hungry locusts. The first author unable to evade our grasping claws is Graham Brown, who was generous enough to sit down with two bizarre strangers and talk into a microphone. Brown talks about his risky leap into the world of publishing, the importance of taking your phone outside with you when waiting on a phone call from one of your literary idols, and the value that a few drinks can have when collaborating on a project. It's a fantastic interview, and a great way to kick off our Killer Nashville interviews for 2014.

 

Episode 149

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Dystopias

0:00 - 30:02

What We've Been Reading:

  • Lev Grossman, The Magicians and The Magician King
  • Logan Masterson, Ravencroft Springs
  • F. Paul Wilson, Virgin
  • Michael Faber, Under the Skin
  • Gene Luen Yang, American-Born Chinese
30:22 - 1:20:33

Dystopian Fiction: Dystopian fiction is one of those genres that many people talk about, but few people consider what it actually means. This week, Josh, Chris and Dietrich dive into the world of shadow governments, oppressive regimes, and thought control, and discuss books that look at a dystopian future. They tackle the definition of dystopia, ruling out some books that often earn the title, while realizing that some you may not think could indeed qualify as a dystopian title. They talk about what aspects make good dystopia work, and what aspects cause this branch of speculative fiction to fall apart. Finally, they examine the recent surge in dystopian fiction, hard on the heels of popular YA books like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

1:20:33 - 1:51:22

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Wire
  • The Strain
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Decalogue
  • The Institute

 

Episode 148

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Catching Up on the Pile

0:00 - 35:14

What We've Been Reading - Part 1:

  • Joe Hill, Locke and Key: Volume 1
  • Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes
  • Gavin Extence, The Universe Versus Alex Woods
  • William Brinkley, The Last Ship
  • D. Alan Lewis, The Lightning Bolts of Zeus and The Bishop of Port Victoria
  • Andy Weir, The Martian
  • Joe R. Lansdale, Bleeding Shadows
35:14 - 1:44:42

What We've Been Reading - Part 2:

  • Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak
  • Gary Taaffe, Urban Hunters (Parts 4-8)
  • Harry Turtledove, The World War series
  • Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford, Sleazoid Express
  • Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), The Cuckoo's Calling
  • Herman Koch, The Dinner
  • Brandon Sanderson, Alloy of Law
  • Joe R. Lansdale, The Bottoms
  • Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century
  • Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore
  • Cormac McCarthy, Child of God

 

Episode 147

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Amazon Versus Hachette

0:00 - 11:38

What We've Been Reading:

  • Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicles series
  • Dr. Stephen Larsen and Robin Larsen, Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind
  • Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding
12:14 - 42:46

Amazon v. Hachette: This week, Dietrich and Christopher sit down to hash out the battle royale currently going on between publishing giant Hatchette Book Group and distribution monolith Amazon. The two of them discuss the source of the dispute, the authors currently affected, and what impact it has on readers in general. The two recognize that Hatchette has been placed in a difficult position, and that its authors are feeling the pinch. They discuss the dubious and ugly tactics used by Amazon and relate some of the vitriol that authors have thrown against the distribution powerhouse. But they also look at the argument that Amazon has made, and dig a bit deeper into whether or not Hatchette actually has author's best interests at heart (spoiler alert - they don't).

43:23 - 53:46

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  • C# programming manuals
  • Coursera courses

 

Episode 146

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Media Bleedover

0:00 - 21:26

Book Club Announcement, Listener E-mails, and What We've Been Reading:

  • Book Club Selection: Alan Moore, From Hell
  • Joe Hill, Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft
  • Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher
  • Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes
  • David Baldacci (editor), FaceOff
22:01 - 1:04:47

Media Bleedover: This week, Dietrich, Chris, and Rachel sit down to discuss when various forms of media jump the boundaries between film, books, television, and games. The conversation begins with examining adaptations and the balance that has to be struck between adhering to the source material and the need to tell a good story in the new medium. The discussion then shifts to pieces of work that draw storytelling techniques from other media, such as shows that behave like novels, novels that borrow from film, and film that samples video game techniques. And to wrap it up, the three consider the possibilities of the future, including storytelling techniques that may borrow from social media, verbal tradition, and more.

1:05:21 - 1:24:50

Off the Bookshelves:

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Lego blocks!
  • El Topo
  • Transistor

 

Episode 145

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Trigger Warnings

0:00 - 19:55

What We're Reading Now:

  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves
20:24 - 1:05:59 Trigger Warnings: Recently, a university openly considered putting so-called "trigger warnings" on its literature courses - in other words, warning students over troubling content that could be featured on course materials. The resulting debate was surprisingly strident and passionate, with many really furious at even the suggestion of such an idea. So this week, Dietrich and I weigh in on the debate, trying to figure out why passions have risen so high on it and debating our own positions on the argument. And our own feelings end up even surprising ourselves, I think.
1:06:26 - 1:26:37

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Godzilla (2014)
  • The Black Keys, Turn Blue
  • The Roots, ...and then you shoot your cousin
  • Monument Valley
  • Splendor

 

Episode 144

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Banned Books

0:00 - 23:20

What We've Been Reading:

  • Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  • James Franco, Franco: Franco Franco Franco, The Franco Franconing Francotion (franco franco)
  • Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat
  • Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves
23:28 - 1:18:44

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Banned Books: After a recent book banning incident that hits close to home for us, we've been thinking about banned books a lot lately, and what better way to broach the subject than by reading one of the most banned YA books of recent years? So this week, we read Sherman Alexie's absolutely magnificent The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and discuss not only what makes it so great (answer: lots of things), but what makes it such a frequent target. Equal parts book club and general discussion, this section will hopefully make you want to read the book both for its own merits and just to spite a reactionary moron somewhere.

1:19:03 - 1:30:59

Off the Bookshelves:

  • 24
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Bob's Burgers
  • Neighbors
  • John Dies at the End (film)
  • Eyes Wide Shut

 

Episode 143

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The Thrill of Discovery

0:00 - 25:56

What We're Reading Now:

  • D. Alan Lewis, Capes and Clockwork
  • Jon Krakauer, Three Cups of Deceit
  • Nic Pizzolatto, Galveston
  • Brian Evenson, Immobility
26:31 - 1:08:28 The Thrill of Discovery: Inspired by a conversation with a listener, this week we talk about the various ways we choose what to read next. When does other media play a part? Do you care about author blurbs? What about reviews? And does anyone really care about awards? We try to discuss all the various things that shape our choices and discuss the things that drive us to pick up your book.
1:09:04 - 1:30:59

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Last Week Tonight
  • Under the Skin
  • Jodorowsky's Dune

 

Episode 142

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A Time and a Place

0:00 - 29:32

What We're Reading Now:

  • Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher
  • David Alan Glynn, Vigilant Guardians
29:54 - 1:23:52

A Time and a Place: We may start off the week with Chris calling us out for a perceived double standard about violence - why do we love so many dark and grim novels but make the same complaints about Palo Alto? - but that's only the starting point for a much longer conversation about violence in novels and where we draw our own personal lines in the sand. When is it okay to use horrifying violence? When is it wrong? And what happens when you horribly miscalculate how you're presenting something, as happened in a recent episode of Game of Thrones? We discuss how violence of all kinds can be used in books, but also why it's something you have to be exceedingly careful in playing around with.

1:24:14 - 1:48:35

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Draft Day
  • Bastion
  • Eclipse
  • Veep
  • Review

 

Episode 141

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Wheel of Thrones

0:00 - 16:03

What We're Reading Now:

  • Roderick Thorpe, Nothing Lasts Forever
  • Sarah Pinborough, Mayhem
  • Jeffery Deaver, Trouble in Mind
16:03 - 56:25

Wheel of Thrones: Well, Game of Thrones is back, and with Chris away, it seems like the right time to talk about the show. Right? Well, not quite. Game of Thrones forms the hub around which our topics spin this week, but we never focus entirely on the show itself; instead, we talk about everything from spoiler etiquette and that much-vaunted study about the effects of spoilers to secondary characters that steal the show to the art of buildups and payoffs. It's a rambling, free-range discussion, but it should hopefully be worth listening to for both Thrones fans and non-fans alike.

56:25 - 1:13:00

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • The First Annual Chattanooga Film Festival
  • The Raid and The Raid 2

 

Episode 140

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The Forever War

0:00 - 19:52

What We're Reading Now:

  • Lev Grossman, The Magicians
  • Frank De Blase, Busted Valentines and Other Dark Delights
  • Victor LaValle, Big Machine
  • Joseph Campbell, Sake and Satori
  • Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher
  • Brandon Sanderson, Lords of Radiance
19:52 - 1:17:36

The Forever War: After our frustrations with The Dispossessed, I wanted to give us a piece of 70's science fiction that reminded me what I loved about the era - the big ideas, yes, but also the pulp trappings, the great storytelling, and the social commentary that mixed all of it together. So this week, we talk about Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, a science-fiction book that's as much Vietnam novel as fascinating counterpoint to Starship Troopers, and look at everything from Haldeman's personal life to how two different versions of the book spawn a bit of confusion and discussion among the group.

1:17:36 - 1:36:36

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Archipelago
  • Compounded
  • Hannibal
  • Southern Literary Festival
  • True Detective
  • Rogue Legacy

 

Episode 139

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The Lost Episodes

0:00 - 18:11

What We're Reading Now:

  • Daniel Woodrell, The Bayou Trilogy
  • Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself
  • Ryan Gattis, Kung Fu High School
  • Homer, The Odyssey
18:11 - 1:18:13

The Lost Episodes: A few weeks back, we announced that we had lost a couple of our episodes due to some technical malfunctions. It was a little depressing for us, because we were pretty proud of how they turned out; unfortunately, there was little we could do except to re-record them after a suitable grieving period had passed. So this week, we return and cover a couple of fun topics for the second time. First: if we could require everyone on Earth to read certain books, what would we require, and why? After that (surprisingly harmonious) conversation, we revisit James Franco's Palo Alto, a short story collection that we were pretty angry at, only to find that time has cooled some of our passions. (We still hated it, though. Just not as angrily as we had.)

1:18:13 - 1:38:28

Off the Bookshelves:

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Letters from Whitechapel
  • Hannibal
  • The Americans
  • Ira Glass

 

Episode 138

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A Conversation with Joe and Kasey Lansdale

0:00 - 1:13:28

A Conversation with Joe and Kasey Lansdale: This week, Chris and I got the chance to talk with not just the great Joe Lansdale (the man behind books like The Complete Drive-In and stories like Bubba Ho-Tep) but also his multi-talented daughter Kasey Lansdale, who does everything from writing to music to learning languages over Skype. We talked with the incredibly gifted duo about everything from collaboration to what it was like growing up in the Lansdale household, and the result should be a fascinating conversation for new fans and old alike. (And seriously, if you're not a fan, you need to be.)

 

Episode 137

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The Lost Genres

0:00 - 21:00

What We've Been Reading

  • Stephen King, 11/22/63
  • Daniel Woodrell, The Bayou Trilogy
  • Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself
21:00 - 1:08:38

The Lost Genres: Sometimes, there are genres that seem to constantly be on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream, but just don't make it. This week, we're joined by author Alan Lewis to discuss these types of books. Why can't steampunk make it into the mainstream? Is it time for westerns to make a comeback? And has Lovecraft made it, or is it just influential? We talk all of that and more in our conversation about neglected genres.

1:08:38 - 1:28:44

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Lego Movie
  • Black Sails
  • Threes!
  • Flappy Bird

 

Episode 136

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Canon Fodder

0:00 - 36:58

What We're Reading Now:

  • John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself
  • Scott Lynch, Red Seas Under Red Skies
  • Paul Draker, Pyramid Lake
  • Lynne Truss, Talk to the Hand
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
36:58 - 1:18:26

The Dangers of Canon: From Star Wars and Star Trek to the Repairman Jack series, the idea of what's canon has come to drive so many series. What counts as part of the story? When should novels be held to certain rules? What's the advantage to breaking away from the rules and guidelines you've set for yourself? And how on earth are you supposed to classify your Star Wars fanfiction? All of that and more comes into play in this discussion, as we navigate the seas of canon and discuss the ups and downs of the idea.

1:18:26 - 1:55:11

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Community
  • Orphan Black
  • The Before Sunrise trilogy
  • Her
  • SimCity
  • Antechamber

 

Episode 135

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News Roundup

0:00 - 37:30

What We're Reading Now:

  • Joseph Campbell, Asian Journals Volume 2
  • Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
  • Leigh Alexander, Breathing Machine
  • Philip K. Dick, The Penultimate Truth
  • Ben H. Winters, Countdown City
  • Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready
37:30 - 1:32:26

News Roundup: This week, we take on some of the big news that's affecting the publishing world. From J.K. Rowling's efforts to change Harry Potter history to new statistics about people's preferences with regard to ebooks to a new way of predicting success for authors, we take a look at various news stories and offer our own brand of analysis that may or may not be useful. Oh, and somehow we bring Hitler into all of this. So that's certainly something.

1:32:26 - 2:06:10

Off the Bookshelves:

  • True Detective
  • Headhunters/Memories of Murder
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Give the People What They Want
  • Justified
  • Veronica Mars
  • Broken Age
  • Octodad
  • Ghost Stories
  • Panic on Wall Street
  • Yume Nikki

 

Episode 134

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Assigned Reading

0:00 - 8:15 Intro: To kick things off this week, we explain the central conceit of this week's show (in which we all assigned books for another host to read) and exactly what we will - and will not - be doing differently this week.
8:15 - 45:36

Dietrich's Book for Josh: First up, Dietrich and I sit down to talk about The Lies of Locke Lamora, which Dietrich touts as a book that made him repeatedly think, "God, Josh would love what this book does." Was he right? (Spoiler: yes.)

45:36 - 1:18:02

Chris's Book for Dietrich: Next up, Chris attempts to make Dietrich reassess his hatred for Papa Hemingway by making him re-read The Old Man and the Sea. Dietrich did, and he and Chris debate the book's strengths and weaknesses while Josh attempts not to butt in too much.

1:18:02 - 1:55:47

Josh's Book for Chris: Finally, Chris and I talk about Meditations in Green, a mostly-forgotten Vietnam war book that ranks among the best books I've ever read, if only for the astonishing prose on display on every single page. Here's hoping Chris likes it as much as I do! (Spoiler: he does.)

 

Episode 131

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Josh Reads It All

0:00 - 1:22:01

What We're Reading Now:

  • Michael Connelly, The Black Box and The Gods of Guilt
  • Dave Eggers, The Circle
  • Veronica Roth, Divergent
  • Chris Kohout, Einstein Must Die!
  • Lance Parkin, Magic Words
  • John Connolly, The Gates, The Infernals, and The Creeps
  • Raph Koster, The Theory of Fun
  • F. Paul Wilson, Cold City and Dark City
  • Hugh Howey, Wool, Shift, and Dust
  • Louis Masterson (Kjell Hallbing), Without Mercy
  • Neil Gaiman, American Gods
  • Chris F. Holm, Dead Harvest
  • Elizabeth Corrigan, Oracle of Philadelphia
1:22:01 - 1:50:01

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Frozen
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Don't Starve
  • Shut Up and Sit Down
  • Escape
  • Rampage
  • Skull and Roses
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

 

Episode 130

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The Dispossessed

0:00 - 47:02

E-mails and What We're Reading Now:

  • Ryan Sean O'Reilly, The One Who Turned Them On
  • David Wong, This Book is Full of Spiders
  • Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens
  • Paul Draker, New Year Island
  • David Mitchell, Ghostwritten
  • Wool, Hugh Howey
47:02 - 1:33:03

The Dispossessed: The Dispossessed is generally regarded as a masterpiece of science fiction. It's won the Hugo and the Nebula awards, to say nothing of a devoted following and the adoration and praise of so many. So why did it leave all of us so cold? We do our best to discuss what The Dispossessed does well and what it does badly. Plus, enjoy as Chris holds an internal competition to see how much vitriol he can spray at the book using wonderfully colorful metaphors!

1:33:03 - 2:02:08

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • American Hustle
  • Anchorman 2
  • Coen brothers films
  • Chris's Fayne Haynes article
  • Buried at Sea
  • Papers, Please

 

Episode 129

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The Holiday Gift Giving Guide

0:00 - 38:00

What We're Reading Now:

  • Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
  • Robert Charles Wilson, The Chronoliths
  • Josh Weil, The New Valley
  • Marisha Pessl, Night Film
  • Kenneth John Atchity, The Messiah Matrix
  • Kathe Koja, The Cipher
38:00 - 1:29:11

Holiday Gift Guide: In honor of the holiday season, this week we make an effort to help you pick out some books for any book lover on your list. Whether it's a young boy who needs alpha male heroes, people who loved The Hunger Games, writers interested in the process, or just about any other type of reader, we do our best to give you a sense of some books you ought to be picking up for them. (Or, let's be honest, for yourself. It's okay. We won't tell anyone.)

1:29:11 - 1:54:07

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Catching Fire
  • Salinger
  • Saints Row the Third
  • System Shock 2
  • Flashpoint
  • Unexploded Cow

 

Episode 128

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Thankskilling 3

0:00 - 23:24

What We're Reading Now:

  • Gary Taaffe, Urban Hunters Collection
  • Angel Huerta, Alpha Gene
  • Scott Lynch, Republic of Thieves
  • Stephen King, Cujo
  • John Scalzi, Old Man's War
  • Dara Horn, The World to Come
  • John Katzenbach, What Comes Next
  • Jeffery Deaver, The October List
23:24 - 1:18:09

Thankskilling 3: We don't have many traditions on the Library Police (apart from the much deserved beatdown of anyone who dares to sully the Wheel of Time series), but one of our few is sitting down and talking about the things we're thankful for each year. At a time when much news about the publishing industry is all doom and gloom, it's good to focus on the positives, and we do so in this episode. From the love for genre novels to the decency of so many authors to the birth of thriving support communities, we take a little bit of time to talk about the things we appreciate about the literary world.

1:18:09 - 1:44:39

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone revisited
  • The Visitor
  • I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream, the PC game
  • Gamespot Interviews
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • Last Vegas
  • House of Cards

 

Episode 127

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Sequels 2: Electric Boogaloo

0:00 - 38:00

What We're Reading Now:

  • Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls
  • Scott Lynch, Red Seas Under Red Skies
  • Scott Lynch, Republic of Thieves
  • Joseph Campbell, Sake and Satori
38:00 - 1:29:11

Sequels 2 - Electric Boogaloo: This week, we tackle the delicate art of sequels. What makes a sequel different from the next book in a series? What inspires authors to revisit characters and stories years, sometimes decades after they pen the original? What makes some sequels work and other sequels flop? And are sequels subject to different rules from standalone books? All of these questions - AND MORE - will be answered. BRACE YOURSELF.

1:29:11 - 1:54:07

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Bioshock Infinite DLC
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Halo 3: Study of an Evolving Ecology
  • GTA V

 

Episode 126

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I Swear, It's All True!

0:00 - 23:24

What We're Reading Now:

  • Tom Angleberger, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
  • Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls
  • Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora
  • Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game
23:24 - 1:18:09

Non-Fiction: Dedicating an episode to non-fiction is about as silly as dedicating an episode to "fiction", and it's a silly task that we soon realize the futility of. But even as we admit the depth and variety of the genre, we take a look at some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) varieties, including polemics, politics, military, science, and true story reporting. And, along the way, we try to list some favorite examples, all while discussing what separates the good from the bad.

1:18:09 - 1:44:39

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Halo 3
  • Assassin's Creed: Black Flag
  • Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2
  • Escape from Tomorrow

 

Episode 125

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Slap Fights and Mini-Topics

0:00 - 48:03

What We're Reading Now:

  • Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart
  • E.A. Fournier, Now & Again
  • Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22
  • D.P. Lyle, Run to Ground
  • Lee Child, Never Go Back
  • John Connolly, The Creeps
  • Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World
  • Robert Charles Wilson, The Chronoliths
  • Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora
48:03 - 1:48:32

Mini-Topic Mania: That's right - it's mini-topic week! Joined by the inimitable Chris Merchant, we take on a few different topics this week, looking at everything from books that we feel guilty about loving to books that we feel guilty about hating (especially for the English major among us). And if that's not enough, we talk about spoiler etiquette and the concept of spoilers in general, thanks to a great suggestion by SCBWI's Rae Ann Parker.

1:48:32 - 2:18:31

Off the Bookshelves:

  • The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • House of Cards
  • Tales of the Arabian Nights
  • Half Life 2
  • Gravity

Episode 124

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Goodbye Breaking Bad

0:00 - 28:46

What We're Reading Now:

  • Lee Child, Never Go Back
  • Stephen King, Carrie
  • Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist
  • Naoki Higishida, The Reason I Jump
28:46 - 52:03

Off the Bookshelves:

  • Captain Phillips
  • Broadchurch
  • Carrie (2013)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
52:03 - 1:51:05 Goodbye Breaking Bad: It's no secret that we're both huge fans of Breaking Bad. But now that the show has come to a close, we decided to give it its own episode. From foreshadowing to character development, from suspense building to tragic deaths, we take a look at one of the all-time great television series. No, it may not be a book, but there's so much here that any author and reader will appreciate - and even if that's not the case, we have plenty to talk about here.

Episode 123

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The Perils (and Perks) of Serialization (with special guest Eyre Price)

0:00 - 39:32

What We're Reading Now:

  • Robert Pobi, Mannheim Rex
  • Rick Robertson, Alligator Alley
  • Stephen King, The Shining
  • Stephen King, Doctor Sleep
  • Helene Wecker, The Golem and The Jinni
  • Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October
  • Tom Clancy, Patriot Games
  • Tom Clancy, The Cardinal in the Kremlin
39:32 - 1:18:25

Serialization (with Eyre Price): This week, we're joined by Eyre Price, author of Rock Island Rock and Blues Highway Blues, to discuss serialization's recent surge in popularity? Is it all a plot driven by publishers? Are audiences demanding longer arcs? And what do authors think about the whole thing? We discuss all of that and more, including how comic books influenced the whole trend and how it's showing up in more than just the book industry.

1:18:25 - 1:43:24 Off the Bookshelves: One of the most intense and stylistically jaw-dropping films in years, Gravity kicks off the section this week, and rightfully so - it's a must-see movie, and a must-see on the biggest screen possible. But beyond that, we talk about the new collaboration between Elvis Mitchell and the Roots, a few TV series debuting this fall, and the newest "must have" game that's made its way to market.

 

Episode 122

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SCBWI 2013

0:00 - 19:31

What We're Reading Now:

  • John Scalzi, Old Man's War
  • Jim DeFede, The Day the World Came to Town
  • Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, The Future of Us
19:31 - 37:17 Jay Asher: New York Times' bestselling author Jay Asher sits down with us to discuss co-writing books, how he found his way into publishing, and the challenges of writing about teen suicide.
37:17 - 1:09:03

Kristi Valiant: Fresh from a trip to Europe (hey, the life of a renowned illustrator is a good one!), Kristi Valiant talks with us about developing her style as an illustrator, making her way into the business, and how her career manages to encapsulate both dancing penguins and Danielle Steele.

1:09:03 - 1:17:03 Bethany Griffin: A fellow English teacher, Bethany Griffin has segued into the world of writing with the Red Death series, a YA series based on the famous story by Edgar Allan Poe. Griffith discusses how she balanced teaching and writing, how she got inspired by Poe without losing her own voice, and the inspiration for her next series.

 

Episode 121

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Blood Meridian

0:00 - 25:30

What We're Reading Now:

  • Matt Lazar and Amanda Thomas, Warrior Girl
  • Scott Spotson, Seeking Dr. Magic
  • Chris F. Holm, Dead Harvest
  • David Sedaris, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
  • Lemony Snicket, The Hostile Hospital
  • Arthur Miller, The Crucible
  • Chris Sedgewick, Cascades
25:30 - 1:12:08 Blood Meridian: After technical glitches prevented our first take on Blood Meridian from being released, we discussed simply writing out our thoughts and posting them on the Library Police website. But ultimately, we knew that wasn't going to work for us, because Blood Meridian is a book that almost demands to be discussed, analyzed, and thought about in depth. So we returned to the blasted hellscape of Cormac McCarthy's devastatingly violent ant-Western this week, accompanied by a trio of great e-mails that get to the heart of the book in very different ways. Whether we're attempting to understand the controversial ending or staring into the black heart of the Judge, whether we're pitching our casting for the possible film adaptation or doing our best to capture the astonishing prose. it's a rich discussion of a book that may be one of the best books you'll never read again (if I may paraphrase one of our listeners).
1:12:08 - 1:37:31

Off the Bookshelves: If you listened to our panel discussion from Killer Nashville, you probably heard Dietrich discuss a video game called Gone Home; this week, he reviews the game in a lot more depth, discussing the experience that arises out of such a simple premise. Meanwhile, the most complicated game I've got to talk about involves a boulder that squishes people. So that's fun too. Beyond that, we've got my thoughts on the strong, if flawed, FX drama The Bridge, Dietrich's take on Riddick, and of course, some thoughts on the final season of Breaking Bad as it draws to its inevitable close.

 

Episode 120

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Killer Nashville 2013

0:00 - 51:30

Updates, E-mails, and What We're Reading Now: We start off this week with a bit of an update about the state of the podcast - some catching up, some notes about missing episodes, and other assorted updates. After that, we're on to a great e-mail about books that have a cultural impact beyond just as a book; from there, it's on to a massive array of books:

  • Chris Holm, The Big Reap
  • Charles Salzberg, Devil in the Hole
  • Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man
  • Chris Kluwe, Beautifully Unique Sparkle Ponies
  • Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor
  • Steve Vernon, Sudden Death Overtime
  • Robert Midgett, Vagabonds
  • Jeffery Deaver, The Kill Room
51:30 - 1:29:29 Killer Nashville 2013: For our third year, we were honored and privileged enough to get the chance to record a panel discussion live at Killer Nashville, a conference for crime and thriller writers. With Josh unable to make it this week, Dietrich is joined by friend and former guest Christopher Merchant of the Daily News Journal, and the pair lead a discussion about what lessons writers can learn from other forms of media. From the genius of Martin Scorsese to the storytelling of The Wire to the use of setting in the new game Gone Home, there's lots to discuss in this great main topic.
1:29:29 - 2:05:26 Off the Bookshelves: Even with our long absence from the podcasting world, you might be surprised for how relatively light this section is at first. Sure, Dietrich shares a couple of thoughts about The World's End and the new Kick-Ass movie, and Josh raves about his new favorite podcast, but apart from those, there's only one thing left to talk about. That thing? Breaking Bad. So trust me, there's plenty else to talk about there. As long as you're a fan. And you should be.

 

Killer Nashville 2013: Clay Snellgrove, Logan Masterson, and Chris F. Holm

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Clay Snellgrove, Logan Masterson, and Chris F. Holm

0:00 - 9:17

Clay Snellgrove: A former minor league ballplayer turned author, Clay Snellgrove has been a friend of the podcast for a long time, but this year, we finally got to sit down with him and chat. We talk about what made him jump from baseball to writing, the things that have inspired him, and what he's working on these days.

9:17 - 24:05 Logan Masterson: A horror author, a friend and inspiration to any number of writers, a Rush fanatic, a crime solver, and an opinionated (and fascinating) thinker - all of that and more could be used to describe Logan Masterson, a longtime Killer Nashville attendee who comes to us courtesy of D. Alan Lewis, another friend of the show. It's a great and twisted conversation, and if nothing else, you get to find out why we almost named this episode "Kill the baby!"
24:05 - 43:19 Chris F. Holm: They say don't judge a book by its cover...but when we saw the covers of Chris F. Holm's books, we couldn't help but want to know more. And after we talked to him, it turns out the man behind them is just as interesting as we hoped. Join us for a conversation about marketing, cross-genre books, and much more.

 

Episode 119

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Violence - HUH! GOOD GOD Y'ALL! What is it good for?

0:00 - 38:23

What We've Been Reading: Before we get into the notes for the week, it's worth knowing that we've been joined this week by author Robert Pobi, a friend of the show who also happens to be an absolutely spectacular author. Rob joins us for all three segments this week, so buckle up for an fun ride!

  • Steven Davis, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend
  • Gordon Rattray Taylor, The Doomsday Book
  • Lee Child, A Wanted Man
  • John Connolly, The Wanderer in Unknown Realms
  • R.P. McCabe, Thick Fog in Pacheco Pass
  • Scott William Carter, Ghost Detective
  • Ryan North, David Malki, and Matthew Bernardo, This is How You Die
38:23 - 1:17:03 The Use of Violence: This week, inspired in no small part by our upcoming Blood Meridian episode, we take a look at violence as a tool of writers. When is it violence for its own sake, and when does it serve a richer purpose? What makes a book "too violent"? Is there a point to targeting children beyond shock value? We talk all of this and more, with Robert Pobi contributing much to the conversation as an author who has had some strong reader reactions to the violence in his work. And although this conversation tends to flow a bit away from our main topic, that doesn't make it any less rich or interesting; if anything, it's a window into some much deeper issues that literature is only a small aspect of.
1:17:03 - 1:44:14 Off the Bookshelves: It's a somewhat more chaotic than usual "Off the Bookshelves" this week; while it's true that we talk about a Brad Pitt serial killer film, give some love to the under-appreciated Pacific Rim, and try to summarize one of the weirder 70's horror films I've ever seen, that in no way really sums up this rambling, conversational, off-kilter section. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. It's more just an observation.

 

Episode 118

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Tell Me a Story

0:00 - 25:39

What We've Been Reading: We kick things off this week with an e-mail about comic books and the challenges inherent in telling a story about Superman. In addition, we talk a little bit about a major fiction competition that we're both judges in. From there, a short burst of recent reads:

  • Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator
  • Lee Child, A Wanted Man
  • Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
25:39 - 1:02:42 Tell Me a Story: Partially inspired by the remarkable experience of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead, we take a look this week at different forms of storytelling beyond novels. What makes an oral tradition different than a written one? How is writing a video game story different than writing a short story, and how do both of those differ from comic books? We try to take a look at a lot of different ways of telling stories and try to discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are, and why they're all worthy of a look if you're a fan of stories.
1:02:42 - 1:28:28 Off the Bookshelves: One of the biggest videogames of the year, The Last of Us, has finally arrived and been greeted with near universal acclaim. But Dietrich isn't quite as on board with all of that, and he discusses why this week. In addition, I talk about an Australian crime series that does right what The Killing did wrong, a new Shakespeare movie that exceeded my low expectations, and a sequel that made me quite happy, while Dietrich tries to express his growing man-crush on Channing Tatum in a safe way.

 

Episode 117

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They Pulled Me Back In

0:00 - 34:50

What We've Been Reading:

  • Rae Ann Parker, The Devil's Backbone
  • Scott Spotson, Life II
  • Joe Lansdale, Savage Season
  • David Freedman, "How Junk Food Can End Obesity"
  • Michael Connelly, Suicide Run
  • Robert Pobi, River of the Dead
34:50 - 1:03:16 They Pulled Me Back In: Why are some books so great to re-read, while others are destined to never be opened again? What's the difference between a fun book and a great one, and what happens when they don't overlap? What makes us read books that are so devastating and depressing? Why do we reread certain books over and over? If you never want to reread a book, does that make it bad? All of these questions and more will be answered!
1:03:16 - 1:38:59 Off the Bookshelves: Although we each have a movie to talk about (a new zombie film and a documentary that's finding a huge audience), most of this week's Off the Bookshelves is about a pair of media experiences that we debate: the pilot for Under the Dome and the video game version of The Walking Dead. On the former, we discuss our pleasant surprise with how solid the adaptation is; on the latter, we try to talk about what it is that makes that game such an emotional and powerful experience.

 

Episode 116

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Books, More Books, and a Red Wedding

0:00 - 44:13

What We've Been Reading:

  • Neil Gaiman, "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
  • Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy
  • Tom Clancy and Mark Greany, Threat Vector
  • Charles Salzberg, Swann Dives In
  • Daniel Bergner, What Do Women Want?
  • Patricia Highsmith, A Suspension of Mercy
  • Robert Pobi, River of the Dead
  • Joe Lansdale, Bad Chili
  • Adam Bertocci, Veronica's Vengeance
44:13 - 1:00:41 Off the Bookshelves: It's a short Off the Bookshelves this week, since we've got the third season of Game of Thrones to talk about, but we still have a few things to ramble on about. Dietrich catches up on This is the End (and loves it like I did) and expresses his crushing disappointment in Man of Steel. As for me, I bring up the game quotient for the week with some very late thoughts on Hotline Miami, as well as some similarly late thoughts on Iron Man 3.
1:00:41 - 1:49:35 Game of Thrones (Season 3): Since season 3 of Game of Thrones only covered the first half of book 3, we can't really do our usual in-depth comparison of the book to the show. But we still want to talk about the series, so we close out this week with a look at the ambitious, sprawling, sometimes flawed third season of the show. From bad weddings to bath monologues, we take a look at the show and the season and how it all played out. (Keep in mind: this is a spoiler-heavy discussion that assumes you've watched/read through the end of the show's third season, but doesn't spoil anything beyond that point. So please plan accordingly!)

 

Episode 115

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Gates of Fire

0:00 - 26:48

Emails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a couple of great emails: one that finds us revisiting our very first Book Club entry, and another that asks us where you can find a good editor for your manuscript. As for our reading books for the week:

  • Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon
  • Stephen King, Joyland
  • Saima Wahab, In My Father's Country
26:48 - 1:16:50 Gates of Fire: This week, we take a look at Stephen Pressfield's Gates of Fire, an account of the famous battle of Thermopylae (you may know it from its depiction in the film 300). It's a book that succeeds in no small part thanks to a lot of wise choices on the part of the author - choices ranging from the choice of narrator to the choice of timeframe for the story. It's a book that Dietrich has loved for many years, and it's a book that won me over in spite of a lot of doubt before I got started on it. We discuss the book, the storytelling choices, and how much it does well as a piece of historical fiction.
1:16:50 - 1:43:03 Off the Bookshelves: It's a veritable smorgasbord of topics this week in Off the Bookshelves, with a little bit of something for everyone. Want new releases? Both of us cover you there, from the utterly formulaic The Internship to the insanity of This Is The End. Want TV? We take a look at John Oliver's first few days as Daily Show host and review a few returning favorites. Need game thoughts? As usual, Dietrich's your man. Want our thoughts on the recently finished season of Game of Thrones? Um...okay, for that one, you'll have to wait until next week.

 

Episode 114

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News Roundup

0:00 - 32:28

What We've Been Reading:

  • Glen Allison, SNAFU
  • Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat
  • John Sparks, Unearthly Tales from Space
  • Glen Weldon, Superman: An Unauthorized Biography
  • Daniel Quinn, Dreamer
  • Neil Gaiman, "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
  • William Rosencrans, Freaksome Tales
32:28 - 1:10:38 News Roundup: Amazon is privatizing fan fiction! A children's books publisher is going rogue! Dan Brown may be ruining books everywhere! If you haven't heard, there have been some interesting items making their way through the book world in recent weeks, and we take a chance to discuss some of them this week, bringing our usual (lack of) logic and sanity to the discussion, along with a lot of wisdom courtesy of John Scalzi's informative blog.
1:10:38 - 1:26:57 Off the Bookshelves: Need some thoughts on the newest Star Trek film? Dietrich's got you covered this week with his generally positive take on the movie. Plus, he's got a new band for you to check out (as long as you like folk music, that is) and some thoughts on the series finale of the American version of The Office. And me? Well, I've got your classic movie roundup, with a discussion of a truly spectacular Clint Eastwood Western.

 

Episode 113

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Nay to YA?

0:00 - 32:00

What We've Been Reading:

  • Gregory Galloway, The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand
  • Eyre Price, Rock Island Rock
  • Mary Roach, Spook
  • Joe Hill, NOS4A2
32:00 - 1:07:12 Nay to YA?: This week, we take a look at exactly what it means to be classified as a young adult book. So often, the classification seems to mean that the book just has teenagers as the main characters, and that's an idea we're both struggling with. So we look at some books that don't quite fit in the classification, and debate if the classification even means anything anymore.
1:07:12 - 1:32:49 Off the Bookshelves: This week, Dietrich takes a look at Iron Man 3, where his mixed reaction may surprise some of you who might expect some more fanboyism. After he shares some thoughts on a surprisingly tough videogame (which prompts some old man commentary from Josh), we move on to some television discussion, including a look at the current season of Mad Men.

 

Episode 112

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The Gateway Books

0:00 - 23:25

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We take on a listener suggestion for a science-fiction giant we've never read, and then try to help a friend come up with some light, fun airplane reading. Then, our reads:

  • Robert Pobi, Mannheim Rex
  • David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames
  • Philip K. Dick, Now Wait Until Last Year
  • Rick Hautala, Glimpses
23:25 - 1:15:01 The Gateway Books: Over the course of our podcast, we've discussed a lot of authors that we love, but many of them have bibliographies that can be, to say the least, daunting. So we come to the rescue and try to give you some gateways into some great authors, from Dennis Lehane to Stephen King, from Terry Pratchett to F Paul Wilson, and more. So bring some notepads and get prepared to spend some money, because you'll get some great recommendations.
1:15:01 - 1:32:44 Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich kicks off the section with a new game that plunges you into the heist genre and a space game that's making his office far less productive. Then, he gives me a great transition by discussing his trek through the AFI top 100 films list. As for me, I take a look at a documentary that looks at The Shining in a whole new light and a fantastic pitch black comedy based on a very true story.

 

Episode 111

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The Fault in Our Stars

0:00 - 19:11

What We've Been Reading:

  • Joe Hill, "Thumbprint"
  • August V. Fahren, Thursday Thistle
  • John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things
  • Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box
19:11 - 56:06 The Fault in Our Stars: This week, we take a look at our current Book Club selection, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a book that has no business being as good as it is, and we spend much of our discussion trying to look at all the ways the book could have been a disaster and admiring the many ways John Green’s choices keep it from doing so. On top of that, a couple of readers chime in with praise for the book’s characters, the plotting, the prose, and even the title, and we use all of that to launch into an in-depth (and spoiler-filled, as a reminder) discussion of this book that seems likely to go down as a modern classic
56:06 - 1:14:10 Off the Bookshelves: A light "Off the Bookshelves" this week, with only a couple of extracurricular activities to talk about. I've got one of them, which is another entry in “horror reboots that should have sucked but don’t” to follow up our praises of Hannibal from last week. But most of this week is spent discussing the new season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is struggling to pull everything together in as satisfying a way as the show has managed in the past.

 

Episode 110

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Critics, Criticism, and the Passing of a Legend

0:00 - 21:28

What We've Been Reading:

  • Mary Roach, Gulp
  • Charles Salzberg, Swann's Last Song
  • Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman
  • Roger Ebert, Life Itself
21:28 - 52:57 Critics, Criticism, and the Passing of a Legend: In the wake of the passing of Roger Ebert, Dietrich and I found ourselves changing from our original topic for the week to something more fitting. It all begins as an appreciation of a man who changed the way we looked at films - yes, and books - but as we go on, it becomes a look at how criticism can influence the way you read, the way you appreciate books, and the way we think critically about the things we are reading. And through it all, we keep coming back to the author, scholar, and gentleman Roger Ebert, and discuss how, in many ways, he helped us to understand the importance of all of those things.
52:57 - 1:26:16 Off the Bookshelves: After a fairly heavy main topic, we try to lighten things up a little bit by discussing lots and lots of television. From the season premiere of Mad Men to the finale of Justified to a new series that defies all of your expectations, we've got a lot of programs to touch on this week. Plus, Dietrich talks about getting to see one of his personal favorite films on the big screen again, and we wrap it all up with a discussion about a funny, twisted party game that you may end up wanting to have for yourself.

 

Episode 109

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Repeat Reads

0:00 - 20:31

E-mails, News, and What We've Been Reading: In response to some requests as of late, we open this week by discussing the best ways to get your books to us for reviewing, as well as how NOT to make us frustrated and angry with you in the process. Plus, we give a quick plug to postertext.com, a very cool new startup with a very unique product that's perfect for us and our audience. From there, it's on to recent reads:

  • Terry Pratchett, Nation
  • Charles Salzberg, Swann's Last Song
  • Eyre Price, Rock Island Rock
  • Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy
20:31 - 59:12 Repeat Reads: This week, we talk about repeat reads - those books that we find ourselves coming back to again and again, for whatever reason. From stone-cold classics to bewildering experiences, we try to figure out what makes a book worthy of being revisited. Sometimes it's the reputation, sometimes it's external forces, and sometimes it's just plain love of the text, but each of them results in delaying our other books in favor of emerging ourselves in a world all over again.
59:12 - 1:18:02 Off the Bookshelves: The meat of this week's Off the Bookshelves is dedicated to Dietrich's discussion of Bioshock Infinite, a game that's been high on both of our lists for some time, and one that seems to be living up to all the hopes that had been set for it. But that's not everything on the table this week - we've got a negative review of the new Oz film, a RAVE review of a brilliant new psychothriller, and a love letter to a classic horror B-movie.

 

Episode 108

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News Roundup

0:00 - 27:17

E-mails, News, and What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a couple of great emails that spur us along - one that calls us out for some of our reactions to Discovery of Witches, and the second...well, the second may just be the greatest email we've ever gotten. And from there, it's on to our current reads:

  • Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • Tom Clancy, The Cardinal in the Kremlin
  • Eyre Price, Rock Island Rock
  • David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • August V. Fahren, Mad Mannequins from Hell
  • Terry Pratchett, Nation
27:17 - 1:14:07 News Roundup: This week, we take a look at some recent news stories that revolve around changes to the book industry. From an author who made millions by holding on to his digital rights to an author's child's battle with a digital imprint, there's a lot of news lately that speak to the ever-changing world of the book industry, and we try to sort through it all to make sense of it for you. In addition, we take a minute to debate whether George R.R. Martin should be working on a prequel series or not, and we wrap things up with a look at some major deaths that have rocked the literary world in the past week and to honor the legacy of those who we've lost.
1:14:07 - 1:33:44 Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich grapples with the difference between what a movie was and what the marketing led him to expect out of it, as well as giving a follow-up on the Great SimCity Debacle of 2013. As for me, I discuss exposing my son to a life-changing series of films, try to sell people on my favorite new Twitter account, and explain my most pleasant cinematic surprise in a long time.

 

Episode 107

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The Badasses of Literature

0:00 - 27:05

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with an e-mail that not only uses proper grammar, but also lets us talk about dirty, dirty topics. So that's a winning start! From there, we dive into the news and discuss our mixed feelings about the new book from the author of Fifty Shades of Gray - a bit of news that we both admire and are a little disappointed about, depending on how we approach it. As for our reads for the week:

  • Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
  • David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
27:05 - 1:04:02 The Badasses of Literature: This week, we take a look at the biggest badasses in books that we read – your Jack Reachers and your Repairman Jacks, of course, but also your Dirk Pitts, your John Clarks, and even your Sherlock Holmeses(es). We try to figure out why these characters work sometimes and fail others, and do our best to figure out the line between the two as best as possible, as well as celebrating some of our favorites in the genre.
1:04:02 - 1:21:21

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich brings up the lead this week with a discussion of the newest version of SimCity, a massively popular game that’s dealt with some crippling problems on its launch. After that, he gives his quick thoughts on a board game convention he attended, which is way, way less geeky than it sounds, as well as a Playstation game that ends up - by design - breaking down into complete chaos. As for me, I get the chance to rewatch the astonishing sci-fi film Dark City, and wrap things up by plugging a feature we’re running on the website.

 

Episode 106

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A Discovery of Witches

0:00 - 35:06

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We're joined this week by my lovely wife Maria, who initially suggested this week's book for our discussion. First off, we unveil our next Book Club selection: John Green's The Fault in Our Stars; from there, we try to find some books that rival John Dies at the End for pure chaos and insanity. From there, it's on to our recent reads:

  • Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
  • Steven Brill, "A Bitter Pill"
  • Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise
  • Ryan Sean O'Reilly, Curious Anomalies
  • George Pelecanos, What It Was
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Phoenix
35:06 - 1:40:36 A Discovery of Witches: After a lot of time and postponement, we finally come to our discussion of A Discovery of Witches, which finds us all - from the ardent fan that is Maria to the more critical eye that I'm wielding - taking a look at this hugely ambitious debut novel and coming away pretty impressed in general. To be sure, we all have a few issues with the book, ranging from the petty to the significant, and we end up detailing those as we try to figure out what the book does well and what it does badly. But in general, we come away pretty interested by what Harkness is doing, and Maria (the only one of us who's read the second book in the series) makes sure that no comment goes unanswered, keeping us honest when we need it most and giving us a sense of how the next book in the set stacks up to this one.
1:40:36 - 1:54:58

Off the Bookshelves: Will Maria pass up a chance to talk about Downton Abbey? Probably not. And between that and her discussion of the show Girls, it's safe to say that it's a far more balanced Off the Bookshelves than we usually do. But fear not: she still manages to touch on the violence of Justified and the tension of The Americans, so her entertainment isn't entirely estrogen-based. As for your usual hosts: Dietrich catches up on nerd podcasts, while I get the chance to rave about what's probably my all-time favorite movie.

 

Episode 105

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The Role of Bestseller Lists

0:00 - 37:50

E-mails and What We've Been Reading:

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
  • Jim Thompson, Pop. 1280
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Mistborn Trilogy
  • Nathan Burgoine, "Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones"
  • Lawrence Wright, "The Apostate"/Going Clear: Hollywood, Scientology, and the Prison of Belief
37:50 - 1:08:42 The Role of Bestseller Lists: Given that someone didn't do his homework this week (Dietrich), this week we discuss the role of the New York Times' bestseller list, especially in the wake of a fascinating article about a company that seems to have found a way to game the system. Does the gold standard of bestseller lists still matter? How do e-readers factor into the whole thing? Does Amazon's list represent a conflict of interest? Will I manage to bring the Memory of Light debacle up this week? All this and more will be revealed!
1:08:42 - 1:28:19

Off the Bookshelves: We both start off this week with some small games, one involving burning a lot of things, and the other a sequel to a massive iOS hit. From there, amidst my scattered commentary on the Oscars, we review an old movie, a new one, and take a look at the newest season of Justified, which is trying something wholly new for the show, with varying degrees of success.

 

Episode 104

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How Amazon Changed Everything

0:00 - 28:57

E-mails, News, and What We've Been Reading:

  • Adam Ross, Mr. Peanut
  • Elizabeth Letts, The Eighty Dollar Champion
  • Joe Hill, Horns
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Mistborn Trilogy
  • Mark A. Rayner, The Fridgularity
28:57 - 1:13:27 How Amazon Changed Everything: Along with frequent guest and bestselling author Beth "Jaden" Terrell, we take a look this week at Amazon, the website whose humble beginnings gave no real clue of how it would change bookselling forever - and not always for the better. From concerns about eBook ownership rights to changes in the bestseller list, from the Kindle to loss-leads and more, we take a look at Amazon and try to discuss how it changed the book industry forever, and why not all of that is always a good thing.
1:13:27 - 1:32:51 Off the Bookshelves: Beth catches up on a couple of big superhero films; meanwhile, Dietrich keeps moving on through Sons of Anarchy and is still feeling good about it. Also, he goes to see the show Patton Oswalt once called "catnip for old people," and we'll leave it at that. And I wrap things up with an iPhone version of a classic board game, an award-winning foreign film, and a brilliant new Cold War spy drama from FX.

 

Episode 103

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More Bite-Sized Topics

0:00 - 28:21

What We've Been Reading:

  • Neil Gaiman, Preludes and Nocturnes
  • John Scalzi, Zoe's Tale
  • Joe Hill and Stephen King, Throttle
  • Joe Hill and Stephen King, In the Tall Grass
  • F. Paul Wilson, Cold City
28:21 - 1:01:19 More Bite-Sized Topics: We've got a slew of miniature topics to discuss this week. A few are supplied by listeners, including some thoughts about the fate of independent bookstores and how contemporary science-fiction reflects our current time. Others we bring ourselves, including a discussion about what, if anything, an author owes to his or her audience - a question that ends up having a more complicated answer than you might originally anticipate.
1:01:19 - 1:22:57 Off the Bookshelves: A lot of my contribution this week revolves around a slew of rewatches of some all-time favorite films - from The Apartment to American Movie to Groundhog Day - meaning that I spent most of my time gushing about movies I truly, truly love. Meanwhile, Dietrich ends up giving the most lukewarm possible positive review of the new zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies.

 

Episode 102

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Genre Benders

0:00 - 22:50

What We've Been Reading:

  • David Poyer, Tomahawk
  • William Rosencrans, The Epiphanist
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
  • Stephen King, Guns
  • Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan, A Face in the Crowd
22:50 - 56:47 Genre Benders: Inspired by the new John Connolly book, we take a look at genre-bending books - those books that just can't be placed easily within a single category. It's a high-risk maneuver, and we take a look at why that is, as well as discussing some authors that do it well and why it's so hard for a publisher to market them.
56:47 - 1:15:08 Off the Bookshelves: Most of our discussion this week is about the film Zero Dark Thirty, a film that Dietrich and I saw together and about which we both have quite a bit to say. But fear not, non-movie nerds; we've also got a discussion about a podcast that I'm thoroughly enjoying and a look at a BBC series that revisits a classic detective.

 

Episode 101

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Looking Forward and Looking Back

0:00 - 33:18

What We've Been Reading:

  • Peter Rosch, My Dead Friend Sarah
  • John Connolly, The Wrath of Angels
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
33:18 - 1:15:21 Looking Forward and Looking Back: At the beginning of 2012, we took a few minutes to make some predictions as to what the year might hold for the book industry and for readers everywhere. This week, we take a look back at those predictions to see how we did (spoiler alert: not well), bravely decide to keep making predictions for 2013 even though we're obviously not very good at it, and take some time to look through some of the announced books that we're already looking forward to even if the year did just start.
1:15:21 - 1:36:12 Off the Bookshelves: While we take some time to discuss our usual melange of movies and games, a lot of our discussion this week is about the show Fringe, which finally finished up its miraculous five-season run. It's a show we both loved, even though it was never perfect, and now that it's over, we take some time to discuss the ending and the show as a whole.

 

Episode 100

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The Books That Started It All

0:00 - 1:19:54

The Books That Started It All: Somehow or another, we've managed to make it to 100 episodes of this podcast, a fact we're both thrilled and humbled by. In honor of that, we have a celebration for this week's podcast, as we're joined by a slew of former guests and friends. From Ryan Williams to Alan Lewis, from producer Larry Sterlingshires to our significant others, we go wildly off format this week as we discuss the books we've been reading lately and the books that made us love reading from an early age. It's a sentimental podcast for a sentimental milestone, and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.

 

Episode 100 (Prologue)

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Episode 100 (Prologue) - F. Paul Wilson

0:00 - 8:54

F. Paul Wilson: As part of our 100th episode celebration, we talked to some of our favorite guests over the years about the books that influenced them - made them love reading, changed the way they wrote, or just went down as a sentimental favorite. First up, we have a short interview with the inimitable F. Paul Wilson, the man behind Repairman Jack, the Adversary Cycle, and so much more. Dietrich and Mr. Wilson talk about the books that helped him fall in love with reading, as well as the ones that keep him excited about reading after all these years.

 

Episode 99

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The Sense of an Ending

0:00 - 48:54

This Week's Reads:

  • Joe Hill and Stephen King, In The Tall Grass
  • Robert Jordan, Crossroads of Twilight
  • Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm
  • Robert Jordan, Knife of Dreams
  • Robert Jordan, Winter's Heart
  • Dennis Lehane, Live by Night
  • Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicles
  • John Scalzi, The Android's Dream
48:54 - 1:32:02 The Sense of an Ending: Weighing in at about 150 pages, it would be easy to assume that Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending is a slight work. Instead, this award-winning piece of fiction is one of the most fascinatingly complex pieces we've covered in our Book Club to date, taking on guilt, memory, responsibility, and much more. This week, we dive into the depths of this beautiful piece of writing, and we use some of our listeners' thoughts as a way to discuss the ways that the book's ending may or may not work in the context of the whole.
1:32:02 - 1:54:07

Off the Bookshelves, including:

  • Josh's end of the year movie binge
  • Jack Reacher
  • Rear Window
  • Vertigo
  • Django Unchained

 

Episode 98

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The 2012 Books of the Year

0:00 - 29:56

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We start off the week with a listener seconding the criticisms of our lack of female authors - an e-mail which ends up directly affecting my reading choice for the week. Meanwhile, Dietrich clearly didn't get the same e-mail, because his read for the week is one of the newest Jack Reacher books, which, to put it mildly, aren't really aimed at a female readership.

29:56 - 1:04:57

The 2012 Books of the Year: This week, we take a look back at the best books we've read this year - the best new books of the year, the best books we read that were published before this year, and a grand prize for the best book of 2012 (in our opinion). Thrillers, nonfiction, crime novels, and a most remarkable coming of age story - all of them and more find a place in the discussion. And things wrap up with your chance to enter the very first Library Police contest - see here for more details!

1:04:57 - 1:24:28 Off the Bookshelves: Despite all my grumbling about the choice of Tom Cruise to play the title role of Jack Reacher, I went and saw the movie...and shock of shocks, it turns out to be pretty entertaining! I discuss why this week, while Dietrich chimes in with some thoughts about the problematic second season of Homeland as well as a video game that might change the way you look at money and poverty.

 

Episode 97

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Media for Readers

0:00 - 23:17

What We've Been Reading: We're joined this week by longtime friend of the show Chris Merchant, who kicks off this week's reading section with a discussion about an annual short story collection that left him a little frustrated. Dietrich, meanwhile, alienates the audience by discussing a book of theoretical physics, while I drive away others by continuing my trek through Robert Jordan's epic series. Add into that a great email about self-publication, and you've got a strong opening for this week's episode.

23:17 - 1:05:10

Media for Readers: For a lot of readers, the world of media beyond books isn't of much interest - a fact that's keeping them from getting into a lot of great stuff. We take a look this week at movies, video games, and television series that might be of interest to bibliophiles. From corrupted antiheroes to a love of language, from visual storytelling to slow burns in plotting, it's an episode designed to expand your horizons beyond the written page.

1:05:10 - 1:17:11 Off the Bookshelves: Lots of adaptations to discuss this week, from The Hobbit and the technology behind its new release to a classic version of Romeo and Juliet that has somehow evaded my attention until now. Plus: a classic Western that's getting a modern adaptation...of sorts.

 

Episode 96

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Four E-Mails

0:00 - 26:06

What We've Been Reading: It's exam and testing week for me, which means my reading for fun is at an all-time low. That's not to say I don't have some books to talk about, though; it's just that both of them are books I've been teaching to my classes. On the other hand, both are really great reads, and both have a lot to offer a reader who wants to see the difference a narrator can make to a book. As for Dietrich, he finds himself following in my footsteps in unusual ways as he ends up re-reading the first volume of a long fantasy series...

26:06 - 1:19:09 Four E-mails: We've been getting some fantastic e-mails through our new contact form, and this week we take some time to answer some great questions and thoughts from our listeners. Is there life to be found among horror novels based on classic monsters? Are we misogynistic or just dumb when it comes to female science-fiction authors? How has the role of libraries changed in a digital age? And what might we recommend for a reluctant teenage reader? All of these and more will be answered - well, at least, they'll be answered as well as we can manage.
1:19:09 - 1:35:07 Off the Bookshelves: As usual, we've got our roundup of movies and games to talk about, with the standout film probably being the new romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook, which manages to be both crowd-pleasing and surprisingly dark. But a lot of our discussion this week is about the latest - and final - season of Fringe, which has just wrapped up a plotline that finds one of the main characters questioning how far he's willing to go for revenge.

 

Episode 95

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Catching Up on the Pile

0:00 - 24:26

Listener E-mails: To kick off this slightly off-format week, we respond to a couple of great e-mails submitted through our new website contact form (located here, if you're interested). The first is from a long-time listener who shares some thoughts on how short stories can embrace bleakness and hopelessness, while the second is a gleefully profane college student who's trying to use us to do his homework for him. Luckily, we love that kind of thing, especially when it comes with flattery, and we find a lot to discuss in both of these letters.

24:26 - 1:15:28 Catching Up on the Pile: Between a holiday from work, our voracious reading habits, and an extra week between episodes, we have a big pile of books we've read since our last episode. So our main topic is an expanded "What We've Been Reading," with more than a half dozen books to pick apart. For this week, I've followed up on a recommendation of Dietrich's and loved it, read another book by one of the masters of pitch-black noir fiction, and continued my trek through the epic Robert Jordan series. As for Dietrich, he takes a look at the revolutionary last decade or two of television as discussed by one of the field's leading critics, follows up on one of my recent reads, and dives into one of the best books - maybe the best book, and that's saying a lot - by the talented Robert McCammon.
1:15:28 - 1:35:07 Off the Bookshelves: The year continues to be a great one for stand-up comedy, as I get to recommend the new album by one of the funniest new comedians I've heard. Meanwhile, Dietrich stokes my jealousy by getting to see the film version of Life of Pi, and he doesn't make things much better by loving it as much as he does. Finally, we wrap things up by discussing one of the more gratuitously and gleefully warped games in recent memory as Dietrich takes some time to really enjoy it.

 

Episode 94

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Misery Porn

0:00 - 23:21

What We've Been Reading: We start things off on a different note than usual this week: with an intriguing challenge from a listener that should turn into an interesting discussion about a movie that, to put it mildly, seems a bit divisive among people. From there, it's back to our usual reading habits. Dietrich continues to dive into the works of John Scalzi, while I take a short break from the Robert Jordan marathon to read a new book by the amazing Lemony Snicket and a short story collection by an author you may never have heard of, but that you definitely should be checking out soon.

23:21 - 50:20 Misery Porn or Bleak Atmospherics?: After a recent episode, Dietrich and I started talking about The Walking Dead and why walking away from both the TV series and the comic books seemed like a great idea. The main issue? The way the series seemed less about a cynical worldview and more about bludgeoning the reader and/or viewer with misery and horrors. It's a trap that many books fall into, especially in the wake of so many bleak young adult series more focused on horrors than on telling a story. We take a look at the line between misery porn and genuinely effective bleak storytelling - after all, just how does The Road differ from The Walking Dead? (Other than, you know, in quality. And greatness. And talent.)
50:20 - 1:12:05 Off the Bookshelves: A Steven Spielberg movie starring an incredible cast, including the inimitable Daniel Day-Lewis? And it's good, you say? Dietrich brings this and other shocking revelations to the podcast this week. As for me, I take a look at two very different TV series that recently got their marching orders - one that I'll miss a lot, and another that just never really met its full potential. In addition, I take a chance to recommend a great new standup album by a masterful storyteller.

 

Episode 93

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Book Vs. Film - Cloud Atlas

0:00 - 17:21

What We've Been Reading: It's a relatively light week for our reads - so much so that, to flesh out my one book for the week (the fourth book in the great Wheel of Time re-read), I take some time to talk about my chance to hear a talk given by one of our favorite authors. Dietrich, on the other hand, checks out a pair of books he's read before, including a short story collection by a modern master and a Star Wars novel that, against all odds and expectations, manages to be pretty good - seriously!

17:21 - 1:01:10 The Adaptation of Cloud Atlas: When we talked about Cloud Atlas for our Book Club selection, we were both bowled over by its ambition, scope, and complex structure, and it was those same attributes that made us worry that a film adaptation of the novel would fall short. Against all odds, though, Cloud Atlas succeeds pretty wonderfully as a film, mainly by bringing a unique vision to the screen that underlines the themes of the novel while standing as its own work nicely. We take a long look at the film adaptation and how it stacks up against the novel - what works, what doesn't, and the choices that were made behind the scenes.
1:01:10 - 1:24:27 Off the Bookshelves: For two weeks now, I've kicked off the final section by talking about a videogame. ARE YOU NOT AFRAID? If it makes you feel better, I also take the chance to talk about the weird, wonderfully awful film that time forgot, Miami Connection. As for Dietrich, he walks away from the new James Bond film disappointed and a little bored - a wrong reaction, I'd like to say - but we find our common ground all over again as we discuss the new season of Fringe.

 

Episode 92

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The Casual Vacancy

0:00 - 33:47

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We come back from a longer than expected break to a bunch of great e-mails (submitted through our new website!) ranging from literary science fiction to questions about Lord of the Flies. As for our reads, I continue making my way through the Wheel of Time series and struggle with how to talk about each new book in the series; in addition, I read the first book by our recent interviewee Will Lavender and don't quite end up having the reaction I wish I did. As for Dietrich, he checks into the first book-based Humble Indie Bundle and comes out with an intriguing collection of short stories by an author whose work he'd never tried before.

33:47 - 54:08 The Casual Vacancy (Spoiler-Free Segment): Ever since J.K. Rowling announced that she would be releasing a book for the adult fiction market, expectations have been high. And now that The Casual Vacancy is out, those expectations seem to be shaping the reaction to the book for both good and bad. In this spoiler-free section of our discussion, Dietrich and I take a look at the reception that's greeted The Casual Vacancy and try to see why so many people are disappointed in a book that both of us loved so heavily.
54:08 - 1:31:38 The Casual Vacancy (Spoiler Segment): In our second segment, Dietrich and I dive into the meat of the book - the massive array of characters, the complex and subtle plotting, the themes and messages on display, a few missteps along the way, and the devastating ending that pulls it all together. It's safe to say that both of us were really big fans of the book, and we attempt to explain why here, hashing out everything that Rowling's attempted and trying to convey the richness of the world she's created in the novel.
1:31:38 - 1:46:51 Off the Bookshelves: It's not very often that I share thoughts about a videogame, much less a new one. And yet, I manage to do it this week, with a look at the violent and compelling Hotline Miami, which ends up being far more complex than you might think. And if that's not enough violence for you, I talk about the cult action favorite Riki-Oh, which is gleefully, absurdly grotesque and hilarious in its brutality. Meanwhile, Dietrich continues the death and destruction with some thoughts about Assassin's Creed III and the sitcom Modern Family. (Okay, maybe that last one doesn't fit the theme.)

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
Will Lavender

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A Conversation with Will Lavender

0:00 - 16:47

A Conversation with Will Lavender: From the time we got to Killer Nashville, we heard again and again that we needed to take the time to talk to Will Lavender, a two-time author who's being marketed as "the master of the puzzle thriller." After hearing Will give a rich and interesting presentation about puzzles and plotting, we got the chance to sit and talk with him about everything from that title of his to his newfound success. Will may be new to the publishing world, but given his sales, reputation, and intelligence, I have a feeling he's going to be a household name before too long, and this talk shows why.

 

Episode 91

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Banned Books

0:00 - 17:29

What We've Been Reading: Dietrich brings two very different books to the table this week - a funny and heartfelt coming of age story as only Terry Pratchett could make it, and a clever piece of science fiction by the author John Scalzi, who keeps on impressing Dietrich over and over again. Meanwhile, I don't have as much to bring to the table this week - my only read is the second volume of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, a re-read that's not just immersing me back into a world that I truly love, but also reminding me just how talented and versatile a writer Jordan really could be.

17:29 - 48:00

Banned Books: In "honor" of Banned Books Month, we decide to take some time to contemplate banned books - not just the most famous, but also the whole concept of banning. Is it different from using good judgment, even if you're running a school library? Where can the line be drawn between objectionable and dangerous, or can it be drawn? And is it really true that The Diary of Anne Frank was banned for being "a bit of a downer"? We cover all of this and more in a discussion that's a lot more complex than we probably assumed it would end up being.

48:00 - 1:02:34

Off the Bookshelves: I catch up on Argo and find it to be pretty dang great, just as Dietrich said. (Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day!) In addition, Dietrich finishes up some thoughts on Dishonored and weighs in a little on XCOM, while I try to do my best to sell people on one of the most insane, twisted, funny, and kind of brilliant web series I've ever seen.

 

Episode 90

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Interviews from SCBWI

Note: Due to some sound recording issues this week, we moved the main topic to the end of the podcast. The interviews are still outstanding, but they didn't sound as good as we would have liked, and we're aware that the sound quality may bother some people, hence putting them at the end. Our apologies for the issues.
0:00 - 22:43

What We've Been Reading: Both Dietrich and I dive into some books by favorite authors this week, with Dietrich revisiting the first John Connolly book and remembering just how hard those books are to put down, while I rip through the new Dennis Lehane novel and find it to be among the best books he's written. In addition, Dietrich reads a comic novel about a universe bankrupted by Earth's music copyright laws, and I check out a short story that takes the Twilight premise and gives it a lot more depth, heart, and humor than you might expect.

22:43 - 41:19

Off the Bookshelves: Although I've been watching a ton of older movies as of late, it's new releases that I've got on my mind this week, and there's quite a range, from a solidly unsettling horror film to a genre-bending crime film to a dense, thought-provoking masterpiece from Paul Thomas Anderson. Dietrich, meanwhile, is trying to go into one of the new big videogame releases without many preconceived notions, and tries to share some early thoughts about a game he's really loving so far.

41:19 - 1:53:02

Interviews from SCBWI: This year, both Dietrich and I were privileged enough to interview some of the members and guests of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). We had a blast talking to everyone, and even if you think you don't really have much interest in children's of YA literature, give these interviews a listen - they've got a lot to say about writing, writers, and the state of the industry. (Each person's name links to their website for more information about their books and work.)

 

Episode 89

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The Forgotten Essential Authors

0:00 - 26:46

What We've Been Reading: We kick off the episode with our first e-mail in far too long, but this one makes up for the gap with some drunken questions about everything from the Bible to Repairman Jack fanfiction. Once you've written your angry letters, though, there's still a lot of episode to enjoy, and we start it off with our recent reads. I finish off my feelings about Michael Chabon's newest novel, immerse myself in Stephen Colbert's latest treatise of insanity and satire, and begin a long trek back through a fantasy series that I've been reading for more than two decades. Dietrich doesn't have quite as much to talk about, but he does dive into an early work from an author whose later work we love - and probably so do you - and sees how the early work stacks up against the later.

26:46 - 1:00:41

The Forgotten Essential Authors: There are authors on the podcast that Dietrich and I talk about week in and week out, but there's also a ton of authors that we really love, and yet just don't always mention. In some cases, they've only written a few books; in others, their early period is really their best work, and their newest doesn't always bring out our same enthusiasm. Whatever the reason, we spend this week singing the praises of some brilliant authors whose work you might not know as well. From dystopian science-fiction to nightmarish morality tales, from philosophical"what if" speculation to tales from Vietnam, from action to literary silliness, the authors here are going to offer you a wide array of experiences, but every single one of them is going to give you a lot to enjoy and play around with, to say nothing of some great, great stories.

1:00:41 - 1:25:14

Off the Bookshelves: We spend a little bit of time this week getting to discuss some things that both Dietrich and I saw and enjoyed, including the time-traveling mindbender Looper and the fascinating new television series Last Resort. Beyond that, I'm going to remind you that, yes, E.T. really is that good, and Dietrich is going to try to convince me that Pitch Perfect is better than it looks. We'll see how that goes...

 

Episode 88

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Tales from Out of School

0:00 - 36:17

What We've Been Reading: We kick off this week's podcast with an announcement about our next Book Club selection, which will be J.K. Rowling's long anticipated The Casual Vacancy, which has been released to some interesting reviews. Since neither of us have read it yet, though, we dive into our recent reads. I find comfort in a surprisingly dark Terry Pratchett book, feel a little let down by a crime thriller that should be right in my wheelhouse, and offer some early thoughts about the newest from Michael Chabon. Meanwhile, Dietrich finds a compelling piece of non-fiction about soldiers on opposite sides of a war, continues to explore the weird, wonderful non-fiction of Mary Roach, and is less than thrilled with a highly regarded work of World War II history.

36:17 - 1:10:40

Tales from Out of School: This week, Dietrich and I draw inspirations from a couple of experiences I've had recently in my teaching career. One comes from teaching a story that ended up being surprisingly difficult to cover due to how unexpectedly dated it was; the other comes from a conversation with students about the type of literature schools focus on when it comes to any non-white author. Both ended up leaving me thinking about them for a while, and now Dietrich and I try to think about some of the heavy issues that end up affecting both readers and authors as a result of these experiences. From conversations about telephones to analysis of school lists, this ended up being a pretty thoughtful and interesting discussion about the world of books as perceived by a younger generation.

1:10:40 - 1:35:41 Off the Bookshelves: For me, this week is mainly about catching up on music, with a few releases from bands that I first fell in love with back in high school - appropriate for this week's topic, right? As for Dietrich, he fills in the movie quota for the week, leaving me frustrated about how much I haven't gotten to see lately and how much I'd love to talk about some of them in more depth, as well as filling in the usual videogame topics that we know and love from him.

 

Episode 87

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An Avalanche of Books

0:00 - 50:03

What We've Been Reading: With all of our Killer Nashville recordings, it's been a bit since Dietrich and I sat down to talk about our recent reads - and with our reading paces, that means a lot of books. Dietrich keeps it simple, looking at a nonfiction book about Mars landings and a massive series of books that follows up on a recent Book Club selection. As for me, I've got a wider range this month, with three books from friends of the show, two compilations (one great, one the opposite of that), and an intriguing young adult book that ends up being a fairly big disappointment.

50:03 - 1:28:55 Off the Bookshelves: Of course, you know that we've got to spend a decent amount of time talking about the (half) season finale of Breaking Bad, so there's almost no need to put that in the notes. But there's a lot more to talk about here as well, including some new TV pilots that we're looking at, a couple of strange movie recommendations from yours truly...okay, yeah, and a lot of Breaking Bad talk. Sue us.

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
Cheryl Denton

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A Conversation with Cheryl Denton

0:00 - 14:20

A Conversation with Cheryl Denton: After overcoming some traumatic events in her own life, Cheryl Denton decided to make it one of her life goals to help others overcome similar events. It's a cause that's driven her work to date, even to the point where her fiction deals with similar concepts. In our interview, we talk about why she got into writing and how it seems like an unlikely career for her, what drives her characters, and how her own life has led her to want to help others.

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
Peter Straub

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A Conversation with Peter Straub

0:00 - 22:56

A Conversation with Peter Straub: A true legend of the horror genre, Peter Straub burst onto the scene in the 1980's with Ghost Story, and hasn't looked back since. From Mystery to Koko, from lost boy lost girl to A Dark Matter, Straub has written books in a variety of genres and tones, all while creating rich and deeply complex characters that resonate long after you've finished the books. At this year's Killer Nashville, we got the privilege and honor to talk to Mr. Straub about the genres he's tackled, the way grief drives so many of his novels, and numerous other subjects.

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
Jeffery Deaver

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A Conversation with Jeffery Deaver

0:00 - 17:50

A Conversation with Jeffery Deaver: More than a decade ago, I picked up a copy of Jeffery Deaver's The Coffin Dancer and became a fan for life. All these years later, Dietrich and I finally get a chance to talk to this crime fiction icon, and the conversation doesn't disappoint. From approaching writing as a job to the incredible work he puts into prepping his novels, Deaver is a consummate professional through and through, and he tells us about all of it while being charming, personable, and a joy to speak with.

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
Bruce DeSilva

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A Conversation with Bruce DeSilva

0:00 - 18:20

A Conversation with Bruce DeSilva: Jumping from the tight restrictions of journalism to the freedom afforded by prose is a tough transition to make, one that a lot of authors struggle with. And yet, Bruce DeSilva seems to have made the jump pretty easily, winning a pair of highly coveted crime fiction awards as well as earning himself a devoted following. From talking with him, it's not hard to understand why; DeSilva is funny, personable, and massively entertaining - if you doubt it, check out his rendition of the Old Testament as written by a journalist. It's a great talk with a man who's managed to come out great with not one but two careers, and has lots to say about both.

 

Killer
Nashville 2012:
D. Alan Lewis

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From Santa to Steampunk: A Conversation with D. Alan Lewis

0:00 - 19:23

From Santa to Steampunk: A Conversation with D. Alan Lewis: Last year, author D. Alan Lewis gave us one of the most fascinating ideas we'd heard - a murder mystery set in Santa's village during the height of the Red Scare. That's a big act to follow, and yet Alan isn't the kind of author to rest on his laurels. We caught up with Alan at this year's Killer Nashville conference to find out about his new steampunk thriller, find out why he's moving to a new publisher, and the amount of research that goes into his unusual worlds.

 

Episode 86

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Killer Nashville with Robert Pobi and Eyre Price

0:00 - 34:09

An Interview with Robert Pobi and Eyre Price: Last year at Killer Nashville, Dietrich and I ended up meeting these two fine men by sheer luck. Neither had a book published yet, but both were intelligent, thoughtful, and hard-working, and their ideas intrigued us both. But what a difference a year makes - now both are published and doing quite well for themselves, and both have returned to Killer Nashville as writers to watch out for. We catch up with Pobi and Price about their year, what it's like being published, and what's next in their careers, as well as discussions about the industry, family life, and more.

34:09 - 1:20:07

A Writer's Guide to Critics: With a live audience staring us down, Dietrich and I host a panel about what writers should know about critics (even self-styled critics like us). Presenting yourself as a critic to a room of authors is a dangerous idea, but we do our best, trying to cover everything from how to get your book to a critic to what to expect once the reviews are done, all while making time to answer questions and trying to be as entertaining as possible.

 

Killer Nashville 2012: Dr. Bill Bass

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Bones, Cattle Rustlers and Retirement - A Conversation with Dr. Bill Bass

0:00 - 17:21

Bones, Cattle Rustlers and Retirement - A Conversation with Dr. Bill Bass: Our first interview at this year's Killer Nashville conference was a great way to kick things off; where else could you talk to a man who gleefully shoves needles through skulls and shows slides of the aftermath of a redneck firework factory explosion? That man is Dr. Bill Bass, eminent forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm, a renowned facility dedicated to forensic anthropology and research. Dr. Bass is always a great speaker, and our interview was no exception; listen in as he talks about everything from how cattle rustling led to the creation of the Body Farm to how little he seems to think of the idea of "retirement".

 

Episode 85

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Short but Sweet

0:00 - 20:57

Short but Sweet: A micro-episode this week, as life and preparations for Killer Nashville keep us from our usual verbal blathering. There's lots of good news to be had this week, though, from the creation of a Library Police Facebook page to the rebirth of our long-dormant @LibraryPigs Twitter feed. On top of that, it's almost time for Killer Nashville, meaning that the next few weeks will be wildly off-format, but full of interesting conversations. And, of course, we couldn't record even a micro-episode without some discussion of our recent reads, which here include the earlier work of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and a late read of a book that's already a sensation.

 

Episode 84

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The Guns of the South

0:00 - 20:57

What We've Been Reading: A short batch of reads this week, since some of us (read: me) had been slacking on reading our book selection this month. Apart from our Book Club entry, though, my time was filled with the first book in the How to Train Your Dragon series, a book that I've loved reading and my son has found endlessly hilarious on every page. Dietrich joins in the comedic selections with the book Redshirts by John Scalzi, a book that he can't decide if he liked, but he definitely enjoyed.

20:57 - 1:16:07

The Guns of the South: There's no denying that The Guns of the South has an insane and goofy premise. That premise? Time traveling white supremacists give AK-47s to the Confederacy in the hopes of turning the tide of the Civil War. It's an absurd idea, and yet, the book tends to be far better than you might expect. Dietrich and I take a long look at this fascinating but deeply flawed novel, all guided by an outstanding listener e-mail that gives us a framework that we're constantly drawing on. It's a great discussion about how to make a dumb premise work and when a book gets in its own way, and even if you're not interested in the novel, I think you'll thoroughly enjoy our conversation.

1:16:07 - 1:30:30

Off the Bookshelves: With no new Breaking Bad episode to talk about due to the vagaries of our scheduling, however will we fill the time this week? By talking about the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast, of course! Mind you, there may be those infidels among you who don't love the show the way we do, so there's a few other topics on display here, including an ambitious movie trailer that has us cautiously excited, a movie that's enjoyable enough if you're bored, and an innovative and hilarious marketing technique that's worth watching even if you don't like the video game they're shilling for.

 

Episode 83

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Turn-ons and Turn-offs

0:00 - 34:59

What We've Been Reading: It's been a longer than usual break between recording sessions, so we've got a lot to talk about this week in terms of our recent reads. Dietrich's talk takes in the prequel to a book that led to an Oliver Stone movie and a pair of completely random choices that lead to very different levels of satisfaction; as for mine, I've got three books that all satisfy in different ways, all while each suffers from some major flaws that keep them from being a complete success.

34:59 - 1:15:09

Turn-ons and Turn-offs: Over the course of 83 episodes, you've probably gotten a decent feel for the things that Dietrich and I love and hate to see in a book. But this week, we decided to make those thoughts a little more explicitly clear, discussing our turn-ons and turn-offs when it comes to picking up a new read or getting irritated with a current one. From great hooks to rich characters, from bad writing to contrived plotting, we try to figure out what it is that makes a good book into a great one, or a decent book into a terrible one.

1:15:09 - 1:39:52

Off the Bookshelves: Between some episode delays and the intrusion of real world events, Dietrich and I have been falling behind in some of the things we really want to talk about here, and this week gives us a chance to do some catching up. The two big discussion topics? The fantastic conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the newest (and bleakest) Breaking Bad season. We do some catch up on both of these, as well as a few other little things here and there to round out the episode.

 

Episode 82

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Our Changing Perspectives

0:00 - 19:56

What We've Been Reading: We're joined this week by Beth Terrell, author and executive director of the Killer Nashville conference, and Beth brings a lot to the table in our opening section, including a seminal non-fiction book and a thriller she's really enjoying. Dietrich shares some thoughts about Gone Girl and is convinced to discuss the book on economics that he's reading, even though he thinks everyone will be bored. As for me, it's a slow reading week, but when you're reading a Terry Pratchett book, at least you know it will be a good reading week, slow or not.

19:56 - 1:02:39

Our Changing Perspective: Inspired, weirdly enough, by some conversations about The Avengers, we talk about how our perceptions and appreciation of books changes over time due to any number of factors - age, circumstances, exposure to different works, and more. From Beth's discussion of her changing feelings about The Catcher in the Rye to my thoughts on how reading books with my children has given me a new window into them to Dietrich's first serious exposure to Catch-22 under what might be the best possible circumstances, we talk about how the events of our lives can affect the way we look at books that we once loved or hated.

1:02:39 - 1:31:56

Off the Bookshelves: Here's some free advice you'll learn this week: don't watch Contagion on the same day your wife comes down sick with strep throat. Trust me on this one. Other things you'll learn this week: some things to look forward to if you're coming to Killer Nashville, what to watch if you want a window into independent game design, and a great documentary about a street artist that turns into something far more complex than you might originally expect.

 

Episode 81

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Superheroes and Graphic Novels

0:00 - 26:55

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We get a little bit of feedback on comments regarding The Book Thief, but most of this section is dedicated to the books we've been going through. Both of us checked out an amazing thriller by Gillian Flynn, but the fact that Dietrich's only halfway through makes it a lot harder to talk about how incredible it gets. Individually, Dietrich finishes up the last Krakauer book he hadn't read (and it will surprise you which one it was), while I read a military book from an interesting perspective and a novella whose symbolism threatens to take over the story proper.

26:55 - 1:11:10

Superheroes and Graphic Novels: In one of our earliest episodes, we discussed "serious" graphic novels, but for too long, we've ignored what made the genre famous: superheroes. In the wake of The Dark Knight Rises and other superhero films, we decide to check out some of the complex and literate - yes, I said literate - fare that may hide behind spandex suits and mutant powers. From the works of Alan Moore to the social commentary of the X-Men, from the grim worldview of The Walking Dead to the diverse array of Batman stories you can read, we try to help people see beyond their own preconceptions and thoughts about the genre and understand that the genre can have some serious intellectual merit.

1:10:10 - 1:30:48

Off the Bookshelves: After the anarchy of last week where I discussed video games and Dietrich did movies, we're back to our usual patterns, with Dietrich following me back into Psychonauts and me discovering a TV series that I should have been watching already. But more than that, it's time for the return of the best show on television, and you know what that means...

 

Episode 80

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Cloud Atlas

0:00 - 29:56

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: A few e-mails start off the show this week, with some suggestions about what we could do for our 100th episode, a great story about someone embarrassing themselves thanks to our show, very early thoughts on the new Dennis Lehane, and more. As for our recent reads...well, a lot of our time has been spent reading (or, in my case, re-reading) Cloud Atlas for this week's podcast. But we've made time for some other books, of course; Dietrich takes on the first novel in a popular YA series about a spunky young hero not named Harry Potter, while I read another book about dueling wizards and a surprisingly great YA novel with a most unusual narrator.

29:56 - 1:19:19

Cloud Atlas: When I first read Cloud Atlas a couple of months ago, it absolutely floored me; rarely had I read a book that was so ambitious, so accomplished, and so absolutely surprising while also accomplishing some feats that I had never even heard of anyone trying before, to say nothing of succeeding. This month, Dietrich and I discuss the book, looking at everything from its fascinatingly complex structure to author David Mitchell's incredible authorial voice, and find that Cloud Atlas is a book that could easily sustain hours and hours of analysis and discussion. Ours is only about an hour, but it's still a rich hour, and one that left us both finding even more to love about the book than we first suspected.

1:19:19 - 1:47:47

Off the Bookshelves: It's one of those weeks where Dietrich and I share more activities than not, and that leads to some fun discussions about Seth MacFarlane's very funny Ted and the surprisingly engaging and successful Amazing Spider-Man. On the solo front, though, Dietrich reacts to Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, while I catch up on a fun kids' movie that came and went and find myself sucked into a video game that I just can't get enough of - even if it is seven years old.

 

Episode 79

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A Clash of Kings - The Adaptation

0:00 - 26:41

What We've Been Reading: I bring two very different crime thrillers to the discussion this week; one is a superb piece of fiction by the always reliable George Pelecanos, while the other is a disappointing mediocrity from an author I had higher hopes for. But it's Dietrich's read that spurs the most discussion this week, as he reads a non-fiction account about the infamous hacking group Anonymous, a choice brought on by a recent The Daily Show interview that impressed us both.

26:41 - 1:22:36

A Clash of Kings - The Adaptation: With the second season of HBO's Game of Thrones now at end, Dietrich and I discuss the adaptation of the book and how the two interpretations of the material stack up against each other. Dietrich approaches it having read the books first, while my first exposure is through the TV show. We take a look at what's the same, the surprisingly large number of differences between the two, and do our best to understand the differences between a faithful adaptation and a good one, and why a lot of major changes may not be that bad of a decision, even given how much we both liked the book in this case.

1:22:36 - 1:51:07

Off the Bookshelves: Pixar's new movie, Brave, is out, and it seems to be getting a little more flak than the studio's used to. But we both disagree - hear us discuss why. Also, we take a look at the end of the most recent season of Mad Men, give a shoutout to another book-based podcast that's given me quite a bit of entertainment, and look forward to the return of Louie and Wilfred, two of the more unique comedies on the air.

 

Episode 78

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An Interview with F. Paul Wilson

0:00 - 29:55

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We start the week off by digging through our mailbox, hearing about some essential war novels to complement our Black Hawk Down discussion and also being told exactly how much we've cost somebody with an obsessive book buying habit. After that, it's off to current reads, and with me just coming back from a long vacation, we've got a lot to discuss here. Both Dietrich and I have been reading A Clash of Kings, so that's first on the plate. From there, Dietrich finds a great heist book that needs a better author, a great piece of ghost writing that needs a better book, and continues making his way through the Dark Tower series. As for me, I rave about Roger Ebert's funny and moving memoirs, enjoy a middling thriller by Jeff Strand, and struggle to explain the intriguingly titled The Man Who Was Thursday.

29:55 - 1:11:50

An Interview with F. Paul Wilson: Since the very first episode of this podcast, Dietrich and I have made no secret about our love for the Repairman Jack series and other books by F. Paul Wilson. And finally, after almost a year and a half of doing this show and the effective end of the Jack books, we get the chance to talk to the man himself. Over the course of our chat, we talk about the ups and downs of co-writing, why he's been so eager to embrace e-books, the end of the Jack series, and what might be next for this author who's tried his hand at almost every genre imaginable.

1:11:50 - 1:52:40

Off the Bookshelves: Sure, we both have our own things to touch on this week, including my thoughts on the surprisingly funny The Dictator and Dietrich's revisiting of a childhood favorite. But there's also a lot of debate and discussion this week, and we kick it off with our spirited breakdown of Prometheus. We both agree on a lot about it - the amazing visuals, some flaws along the way, etc. - but we part on our final verdict. Listen in and see what you think. And we close the section with a look at two very different aspects of video games: one that highlights the worst that gamers offer the world, and the other an example of just what video games are really capable of. Highs and lows, people!

 

Episode 77

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Spoiler Warning

0:00 - 29:21

E-mails, What We've Been Reading, and More: The week kicks off with some housekeeping notes, including some discussion about upcoming episodes (note: the schedule has changed now, for reasons that will become clear during our next episode), an update on our publishing schedule, and more. With that out of the way, we take a moment to remember the irreplaceable Ray Bradbury, who died recently and left a hole that can never be filled. After that, we go through our mail bag, touching on our recent explicit rating and the joys of libraries; from there, we dive into recent reads, with Dietrich loving the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft and me diving into a massive noir anthology as well as absolutely ripping through what many feel is one of the best American novels of all time.

29:21 - 1:04:45

A Discussion of Spoilers: When critic Stanley Fish wrote his thoughtful reflection on the themes of The Hunger Games, he probably wasn't entirely prepared for the reaction he got: an explosion of anger that he discussed points from the whole trilogy and thus angered a lot of people with what were perceived as unmarked spoilers. Fish wrote a defense of his article that stirred up a lot of controversy with its argument that spoilers don't really matter, and the debate was on. Dietrich and I weigh in this week, discussing whether spoilers matter (we tend to both think they do), whether Fish was in the wrong (here, we differ), and just what effect spoilers do or don't have on the reading experience.

1:04:45 - 1:31:44

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich and I both have a few films to talk about this week, including A Face in the Crowd, which is a classic that not enough people have seen, and some staples of animation that I'm finally catching up on. But mostly, this week is given over to summer movies, with both of us discussing some of the movies we're most anticipating this summer. From Prometheus to Ted to The Dark Knight Rises, we share some thoughts about the movies we're most excited about as the summer season continues. (And for the curious: you can find the trailer for Beasts of the Southern Wild here. Watch and see if you're not a little caught up in its imagination and beauty.)

 

Episode 76

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Curtain Calls

0:00 - 31:38

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a bit of an unanswerable question, but we do our best with it: just how is it that Dietrich and I read so much? After that, both Dietrich and I have some individual reads to talk about - I finally give in and re-read The Great Gatsby and finally appreciate it for the work of art that it is, while Dietrich begins a journey through the biggest hole in his Stephen King experience. But more than that, we both read the final Repairman Jack book, Nightworld, and take some time to discuss how much the book has been revised and how solid it is both as a finale and as its own experience.

31:38 - 1:11:48

The End of a Series: This week brought the release of Nightworld, the aforementioned novel by F. Paul Wilson that ends both his Adversary Cycle and his Repairman Jack series. While we were both satisfied (greatly!) with the book, it did get us thinking: just what all goes into making a solid finale to a series? And why are they so difficult to pull off? We take a look at some of the most famous (and infamous) endings to series that we can think of, as well as sharing some thoughts and speculation about series that we're in the middle of right now.

1:11:48 - 1:43:54

Off the Bookshelves: It's the time of year when a lot of television is coming to a close, and that gives us plenty to talk about. Of course we touch on some of the greatness that Game of Thrones and Mad Men have been dishing out this year, but beyond that, we share some thoughts on the recently departed Awake, a show that we both loved but wonder if its cancellation is really for the best. Oh, and I got a chance to see one of the best movies of all time, and it's going to make you want to re-watch it, I bet. Just you wait.

 

Episode 75

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Chapstick and Necrophilia, featuring Robert Pobi!

0:00 - 19:00

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: This week, we're joined by Robert Pobi, whose debut novel, Bloodman, floored both Dietrich and me, and has already become an international bestseller within weeks of release. Pobi joins us for the whole episode this week, given that he's one of the most interesting and coolest guys we've met through this podcast, and the results are an absolute blast. To kick things off, we have a brief discussion about bringing up authors on charges for their literary crimes, a talk which leads to some strong words about Thomas Harris, one of the legends of the serial killer world. After that, it's on to recent reads. Robert makes us look bad by doing some incredibly fascinating - but heavy - research reading for his books. Meanwhile, Dietrich re-reads one of his favorite books, a fictional recounting of a legendary battle, while I take on a difficult but thought-provoking science-fiction book. On top of all that, we roll out our pick for our next book club discussion: the astonishing Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. So don't miss that one - trust me, if you haven't read it, you must.

19:00 - 1:05:24

A Conversation with Robert Pobi: We first met Robert Pobi last year at Killer Nashville. Since then, he's written a ridiculous number of books (seriously), become a best-selling author, and much, much more. Over the course of a great 45 minutes, we talk to Robert about everything from three-page rejection letters to the unlikely origins of Bloodman, and have a blast doing it. You'll get to hear how Robert maintains an astonishing work ethic, hear some incredibly sound advice for anyone trying to get into the writing field, and even hear some thoughts on why necrophiliacs love Chapstick. So there's something for everyone this week! Don't miss out.

1:05:24 - 1:31:32

Off the Bookshelves: Robert does his best to abstain from this section, although we do draw him out enough to get a sense of some of what he's listening to this week. Meanwhile, Dietrich and I both share some thoughts on movies so highly regarded that they barely need our endorsements, as well as happily discovering that not only is Tenacious D back, they may have put out the best album they've done to date.

 

Episode 74

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An Interview with Dan Wells

0:00 - 19:00

What We've Been Reading: We kick things off this week with Dietrich adding another author to his list of "authors who will make me feel insecure when I write" as a result of finishing the amazing American Gods. Also: ever wonder what it might look like if Australia has its own version of Red Dawn? Now you don't have to worry anymore. Meanwhile, I read the latest entry in the Harry Bosch series and discuss the possibility of the series coming to an end. But we wrap things up on a different note by reviewing an audiobook...that's six minutes long.

19:00 - 1:05:24

An Interview with Dan Wells: Dan Wells first came to my attention as the author of the John Wayne Cleaver series, an incredible set of books about a teenager struggling with his sociopathic tendencies. For Dietrich, though, Wells was the host of a great podcast called Writing Excuses, which looks at writing from an author's perspective. However we came to his work, though, there's no denying that we were both fans of his, and this week we got the chance to talk with him about all of that and more. We learn about why Wells may have creeped out a few morticians, hear about a writing professor who had a pretty insanely prestigious class, discuss historical fiction, and much more.

1:05:24 - 1:31:32

Off the Bookshelves: It's a week of cinematic oddballs this week, with both Dietrich and I discussing movies that are deeply flawed but not entirely without merit (though to greatly differing degrees). But more than that, it's time for some TV talk. We take a midseason look at Game of Thrones and discuss how well the interpretation is going; after that, we have a talk about the recently ended fourth season of Fringe, a season that fits right in with our "flawed but not bad" discussion that opened the section.

 

Episode 73

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Black Hawk Down

0:00 - 35:05

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We start off this week's episode with several e-mails, including some thoughts on books that appeal to the senses and a lot of reaction to our science-fiction episode. But the recent reads don't get neglected either. I've been on a short story binge as I've finished off the collected works on H.P. Lovecraft as well as tearing through a series of short stories by Joe Lansdale. Dietrich, on the other hand, is filling up on the classics for the week, reading through one of the most famous books by Victor Hugo as well as diving into a modern classic by Neil Gaiman.

35:05 - 1:23:22

Black Hawk Down: If there was a single non-fiction book that Dietrich and I might hold among the best works the genre has ever produced, there's a good chance that Black Hawk Down would be that book. A harrowing, intense account of an American mission in Somalia that goes drastically awry, Black Hawk Down is a compelling, riveting book that focuses on the people involved in the event while never losing a sense of the bigger picture that's going on. It's an incredible juggling act, one that manages to make numerous salient points about how things go wrong while never falling into easy answers, to say nothing of managing to capture the Somali perspective just as solidly. It's a book we both hold in the highest regard, not just as military writing, but as writing, pure and simple, and this week we discuss it in our book club.

1:23:22 - 1:53:08

Off the Bookshelves: This week, Dietrich plunges into the world of low-budget, indie films that have an audience of three or four people when he sees a little-known movie called The Avengers. Turns out, he liked it in spite of its low-key, understated feel. Me, I'm checking out Indonesian action flicks and Polanski-helmed takes on Shakespeare, so I've got a bit more variety going on. But we wrap up the week with a discussion of the latest season of Mad Men, which just may be the best this already superb show has put on to date.

 

Episode 72

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Shooting Up with Monkey Blood

0:00 - 14:56

E-mails: We've got a few e-mails this week, including one that gave birth to our main topic. But first off, we hear from the too-long absent Rob Kristoffersen, who gives us a question that's far less easy to answer than it originally sounds. From there, we hear again from Gravy Jones, who shares some thoughts on the books that followed the amazing Child 44 as well as offering us a great idea for a future topic.

14:56 - 37:05

What We're Reading Now: Lots and lots of books to talk about this week, with a publication spread of almost a century from the oldest to the newest. Dietrich has a pair of great non-fiction books to talk about, to say nothing about the fact that he got to meet one of the pre-eminent authors of the genre. As for me, I finish up my sojourn through the Sherlock Holmes canon (including some thoughts about one of the weakest stories of the series), respond to a reading suggestion from the incomparable Neil Gaiman, and catch up on the newest entry in Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

37:05 - 1:25:28

A Primer on Science Fiction: We open the segment with a letter from a listener who wants to move beyond "literary" fiction and into more popular stuff, but wants to know how to begin. So we take a run at creating a guide to getting into the science-fiction genre. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty daunting, to say nothing of the fact that the genre contains everything from slapstick comedy to thought-provoking philosophical treatises and beyond. So where to begin? We take a look at a lot of the best entryways to the genre, ranging from Douglas Adams to Robert Charles Wilson, from Dune to Ender's Game, from Rendezvous with Rama to 1984. And we do it all while trying to avoid the worst excesses of the genre and appeal to those who think the genre has nothing to offer them.

1:25:28 - 1:50:56 Off the Bookshelves: This week, we've got something for everyone. Want one of the best action movies in recent memory? We've got it for you. One of the funniest new series on TV? We've got that too. Thoughts on one the most anticipated video games of the year? Naturally. And do we have thoughts on the new Jack White album? You bet we do. All of that and more, in this week's segment! How was that for an intro?

 

Episode 71

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The News Brief

0:00 - 30:24

What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a bit of scolding for our apparently widely divergent moral code as it pertains to Twilight and a feeble attempt to defend ourselves of the charges. As for our current reads: Dietrich may have only read one book this week, but it's a great one: Generation Kill, by Evan Wright. We talk about why that's such an incredible book and whether I'm right in my opinion that it should almost be required reading for every American citizen. Meanwhile, I've got a lot more diverse set of offerings, kicking things off with a great black comedy that steps awry only in the last pages, but does so in a pretty sharp way. Then, it's on to a reader suggestion: Child 44, which turned out to be one of the best serial killer novels I've ever read, if only for its entirely unique premise. Finally, I wrap things up with Tritium Gambit, a pulp science-fiction novel that doesn't take itself at all seriously, a choice that ends up making it a lot of fun to read through.

30:24 - 1:08:53

The News Brief: There's been a lot of major news in the book industry this week, with the two biggest contenders being a massive anti-trust lawsuit against e-book publishers and J.K. Rowling's announcement of details about her new (non-Harry Potter) novel. But there's more book news in the world to touch on to, from a pleasantly surprising new survey about reading habits to a soon-to-come children's book that makes us both laugh with glee. On top of those, there's Fifty Shades of Grey, the new publishing sensation that has lots of people talking - some with scorn, some with overflowing praise. We talk about all of these and more, discussing the news of the day and finding ourself in peals of giggles at an online alias that makes it hard to be taken all that seriously.

1:08:53 - 1:32:56

Off the Bookshelves: We flip our positions from the opening section, with Dietrich having a ton to talk about and me only having the one. Once again, though, that one is a great one: the outstanding meta-horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which gave me one of the most entertaining theatrical experiences in recent memory. Meanwhile, it's documentary week for Dietrich, with movies about real-life superheroes, chess prodigies, and comic book conventions, as well as a short film that may give you a little more hope for the world.

 

Episode 70

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Subverting the Genre Organically

0:00 - 14:02

What We've Been Reading: It's a lighter than usual reading week for the two of us, with each of us only making it through a single book apiece (an oddity, for us!). For Dietrich, the week's been dedicated to a revisiting of Stephen King's short story collection Just After Sunset, a collection that produced some of our favorite King stories in a long time. Meanwhile, I check out Audrey Niffenegger's followup to the amazing Time Traveler's Wife, a ghost story called Her Fearful Symmetry, to see how it lives up to its incredible predecessor.

14:02 - 1:10:58

Into the Mailbag: Every so often, we find ourselves with so many good e-mails to read and discuss that we decide to forgo a main topic in favor of responding to our listeners, and this is one of those weeks. From dystopian futures to the plausibility of The Hunger Games, from serial killers in Stalinist Russia to the painful analogies that populate the Twilight books, we discover once again that our listeners give us far too much credit for being knowledgeable, but it's credit that we love using and responding to. And if none of that grabs you, don't worry - there's still a discussion about how we get turned on to books and why books might be turning more people on, if you get the not-so-subtle innuendo...

1:10:58 - 1:31:18

Off the Bookshelves: We kick things off with a traitorous action: the recommending of another podcast. But when it's hosted by the inimitable John Hodgman, how can you blame us? But there's plenty more to talk about, with an incredible deal on a classic video game, the return of Game of Thrones, a state-of-the-series discussion about Awake, and Dietrich finally getting around to checking out Generation Kill.

 

Episode 69

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Go Team Jacob!

0:00 - 11:35

What We've Been Reading: We're joined this week by my wife Maria and Dietrich's fiancee Jennifer Finley for our discussion of the Twilight series, because let's be honest - an all-male discussion of the series probably wouldn't do anyone any favors, would it? But before we get to the heart of the episode, it's time for a quick round-up of current reads, as always. Jennifer shares some thoughts on one of her first exposures to Stephen King (in the form of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), while Maria does some extra credit work for the main topic by reading Meyer's novella about a tertiary character from the series. As for the boys, well, Dietrich finally finishes up the Chaos Walking series, while I catch up with the North Pole murder mystery The Blood in Snowflake Garden and share some thoughts on the early goings of the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.

11:35 - 1:21:57

The Twilight Saga: Beloved by millions, hated by just as many, The Twilight Saga has become a publishing industry leviathan, one that polarizes people before they even come to the books. We do our best to take a level-headed look at the series without prejudice or unfair assumptions, and the ladies in our lives come along for the ride to provide a different perspective on it all. And the end result? Well, it might be more balanced than you think. Sure, there's a lot for us to complain about, but there's also some great ideas scattered throughout the series, even if they're often frustratingly handled. And then there's the insanity of the fourth book, which is kind of joy in of itself. There are some strong opinions, a few assumptions about what makes the series popular, and a lot of back and forth about where the books succeed and fail. It's a solid discussion about a book that many judge without ever reading, and while we may not be able to whole-heartedly endorse the books, I think the discussion shows that there's plenty to talk about in this series, even if you hate them.

1:21:57 - 1:33:41

Off the Bookshelves: In which we learn the importance of reminding guests about the pattern of the show. Or, to put it more fairly, in which the ladies suddenly have to come up with things to talk about and end up covering iPad games, the return of Mad Men, the greatness of Justified, and why Dietrich stinks at The Old Republic. As for us: one of us catches a midnight showing of the B-movie classic Army of Darkness, while the other watches a documentary about a font. Which one watches which? You may be a little bit surprised at the answer.

 

Episode 68

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The Hunger Games - Book vs. Film

0:00 - 18:01

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a brief discussion about anachronistic language in fantasy and historic fiction, a topic that probably could fill a lot more time if we let it. From there, we delve into our current reading habit. I dive into Terry Pratchett's YA Discworld books and find that they more than hold their own against any other Discworld book; meanwhile, Dietrich finally catches up on 20th Century Ghosts, the phenomenally brilliant short story collection from horror author Joe Hill.

18:01 - 1:02:38

The Hunger Games - Book vs. Film: It didn't take us many episodes of this podcast to dive into The Hunger Games books, a series that we were both really passionate about. Now the movie is out - how does it compare to the books? We have a lengthy discussion about the adaptation process, looking at how the movie addresses the limitations of the first-person narrative, opens up the boundaries of what the book covers, and uses some fantastic casting smartly to reduce the reliance on exposition and narration. In short, we compare the book to the film not just to see how they're different (though we've got a list of some fascinatingly minor and nitpicky changes that people are bringing up), but more to see how good a job the filmmakers did turning a great book into a solid film.

1:02:38 - 1:25:58

Off the Bookshelves: Well, Mad Men is back, and you know there's no way we could go without talking about it at least a little bit. But there's more to talk about here, with Dietrich singing the praises of The Muppets right before I turn things darker and more serious with the chilling Cold War film Fail-Safe and the profoundly moving documentary The Interrupters.

 

Episode 67

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The Rules of Serial Killers

0:00 - 23:07

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off this week with new equipment, a better sound, and a fantastic e-mail that manages to be hilarious despite opening with some horrifying news. Recent reads are a little thinner than usual, with both Dietrich and I making our way through the Twilight books for our upcoming discussion, but we still manage to find a few things to talk about. I've started into the third book in the Hap and Leonard series by Joe Lansdale, finding it hilarious, twisted, and still really gripping - in other words, everything I've come to expect from Lansdale. As for Dietrich, he indulges his inner geek with a biography of the world's most famous science equation while continuing to finish up Chaos Walking.

23:07 - 1:04:07

Tired of Serial Killers: Ah, serial killers. Ever since Thomas Harris created a little character named Hannibal Lecter, the thriller genre has been absolutely awash in serial killers, ranging from the brilliant and gruesome to...well, to the brilliant and gruesome. It's a staple of the genre, but with agents rapidly saying they want nothing to do with serial killers anymore, we take a look at this overused trope and try to figure out how to make it work. We come up with a few rules and guidelines about things we're tired of seeing, but we also discuss books that broke those rules beautifully, leading us to explain that with enough talent, creativity, and interesting ideas, you can make it work for you. It's a fun discussion, one filled with lots of hilariously bad examples, as well as quite a few really good ones as well.

1:04:07 - 1:22:46

Off the Bookshelves: While a lot of this closing segment is spent with both of us raving about the unexpectedly hilarious and smart 21 Jump Street film, there are still a few other topics to round things out. I try to make sure everyone knows how good the new Bruce Springsteen album is (answer: very) and share some thoughts on the unexpectedly early cancellation of HBO's low-rated but critically-praised Luck. Dietrich, on the other hand, checks out the ambitious failure In Time and find that the critically acclaimed The Descendants deserved all the praise that it got.

 

Episode 66

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Return of the Short Stories


A Brief Note About This Episode: We were unaware until listening to the recording that our equipment has been slowly going out, which means that the sound quality this week is far lower than we usually like to do. We have replaced the equipment and next week's episode should sound much better; however, we ask that you bear with us this week with our technical difficulties.


0:00 - 22:54

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: This week's episode starts off with one reader picking up the heaviest "escape" reading I know off offhand and another asking us how often we've played hooky from work because of books. As for our current reads, Dietrich continues to make his way through the Chaos Walking series (and continues to struggle with finding things to say without being able to talk about the story) and shares some good news about the exceptional gamer journal Kill Screen. As for me, I take on the "ultra-noir novel" The Long Drunk and find it enjoyable with some serious qualifications; after that, it's on to the B-movie splattery goodness of Draculas, with a lengthy discussion of how the book uses the e-book format to novel advantage.

22:54 - 1:04:00

Return of the Short Stories: This week, we return to the short story medium, this time singling out some of the best stories we've had the privilege of reading. Dietrich kicks us off with his love for the Machine of Death, while I bounce off of his science-fiction opening to discuss works of Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and others. From there, it's on to horror and fantasy, with recommended stories from Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman. But don't worry - there's some solid literary giants represented here, too, including Tobias Woolf and J.D. Salinger. In other words, we take on a huge variety of styles and genres here, coming up with some of the best examples of short stories we can, all for your enjoyment. So check them out - I think you'll find a lot to love here.

1:04:00 - 1:22:24

Off the Bookshelves: I take the chance to brag about seeing the amazing Jack White in concert before talking about a couple of movies, including the incredible A Separation, which deserves to be seen by everyone, even those who might be scared off by its Iranian origins. After that, Dietrich brings us to a close by sharing some love for The Oatmeal and giving his thoughts on the greatly anticipated Mass Effect 3.

 

Episode 65

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White Noise

0:00 - 23:44

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off this week with some thoughts from Robert Kristoffersen about our Titans of Literature episode and some early feelings on how The Hunger Games movie might turn out (something we're quite excited to see). From there, it's on to recent reads. I've got quite a bit to discuss this week, including the newest Jack Reacher novel, a short story from an author I knew from a Big Lebowski/Shakespeare mashup that I loved, and a great coming-of-age tale from the inimitable Joe Lansdale. Meanwhile, Dietrich finishes up Bloodman (and loves it), follows up on a listener's recommendation about an unexpectedly solid novelization, and continues to make his way through the Chaos Walking trilogy and finds that I wasn't exaggerating in how hard it is to talk about the books without giving much away.

23:44 - 1:10:29

White Noise: One of the most acclaimed literary novels of the past 30 years, White Noise follows a college professor as he floats through academia and life, crippled by his fear of death and his disconnection from the world around him. But does it work? I feel that it's a book I have a huge amount of respect for, but can't necessarily say that I enjoyed; meanwhile, Dietrich finds it pretentious and finds himself violently angry at the book and at author Don DeLillo by proxy. Who's right here? We have a pretty passionate discussion about White Noise in this week's podcast, with both of us arguing our cases, interrupting each other, and attempting to convert the other over to our own side. It's a lively discussion, and we'll be curious to see what your own thoughts on the book turn out to be.

1:10:29 - 1:29:58

Off the Bookshelves: I start off the week by sharing some thoughts on TV shows that I gave a shot, and find that while The River is pretty badly collapsing, Luck only gets better and better as it goes. I also can't help but raving about the new horror film Kill List before bringing us into a discussion about the new show Awake, which has one of the more intriguing pilots in recent memory. From there, Dietrich gets his documentary on, checking out docs about violent animals and ad agencies, before gushing uncontrollably (and rightfully so) over Martin Scorsese's Hugo.

 

Episode 64

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The Titans of Publishing

0:00 - 23:34

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: Our e-mails this week take us international, as we get taken to task for our lack of Twilight coverage by an American living in Israel, which prompts us to do some soul-searching about our upcoming book club selections. After that, it's onto recent reads, with me finishing and Dietrich beginning Robert Pobi's Bloodman, and both of us finding a lot to praise in what turns out to be an incredible debut novel. Beyond that, Dietrich also shares some thoughts on the first volume of the Chaos Walking trilogy, leading us to discuss whether the book's flaws are enough to detract from its greatness.

23:34 - 1:03:28

The Titans of Publishing: This week, we take a look at the titans of the publishing industry, using Wikipedia's list of the best-selling authors in history as a jumping-off point. Turns out, there's a lot of surprises on that list, including several we never would have considered being among the best-sellers of all time. We try to do what so many have attempted: trying to understand exactly what makes these authors stand out so far above the others, and what makes these names so prominent in the publishing field. And does making the list mean you're great, a sell-out, or none of the above? We talk about it all and then some in a free-wheeling conversation.

1:03:28 - 1:22:26

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich changes up his usual videogame obsession with a thought-provoking (if hyperbolic) piece about the game Mass Effect and what it means in terms of the larger science-fiction picture. Meanwhile, I hit the widest spectrum possible in moviegoing, with a week that included both the transcendence of Casablanca and the miraculously awful The Room. Finally, we wrap up the week with a look at the current season of Fringe, which turns out to have had a much better plan than we ever dreamed to hope.

 

Episode 63

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Action, Adventure, and a Fat Jedi

0:00 - 21:41

What We've Been Reading: It's a bit of a Killer Nashville week on the reading list this week, as both Dietrich and I share some thoughts on books by authors we interviewed at the conference. Dietrich finds a lot to love about D. Alan Lewis's tale of murder and Santa Claus (yes, you read right), while I share some thoughts on the debut novel of Robert Pobi. More than that, though, this week belongs to the Chaos Walking trilogy for me, which I finished up and was left staggered by. Listen as I try to review a whole trilogy while not even spoiling the first novel of the set - it's certainly a challenge, but for me, the books are worth the effort to praise them.

21:41 - 1:03:10

Action Scenes in Books: Action sequences: if there's every a time when you have to do more showing than telling, it's these. But what separates the great from the awful here? We take on a lot of different authors, with Dietrich criticizing Tolkien's take on action (because he likes being a villain) while I single out Ender's Game for its perspective on gravity and space combat. There's lots more here, from Robert Jordan to Pat Conroy and beyond, but more than that, we try to figure out exactly what makes these sequences really resonate and work for us, and why it is that some authors just never seem to be able to pull it off in an exciting, involving way.

1:03:10 - 1:18:08

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich and I get a chance to rave about our recent chance to see John Oliver perform standup (spoiler alert: he was amazing), and we also give our thoughts on ABC's new horror series The River. Meanwhile, Dietrich catches up on The Grey, another January release that's better than you might think, as well as explaining how his home life has turned into a buddy cop movie with an obese Jedi. Seriously.

 

Episode 62

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Death to Butterflies (The Romance Edition)

0:00 - 28:21

E-mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick the week off with a few e-mails, including thoughts on Point of Impact from Robert Kristofferson, another way to get some cheap and free e-books via the web, and a listener who takes me to task for some of my complaints about Point of Impact. From there, as always, it's on to our recent reads. I once again attempt to review a trilogy without even spoiling the first book, which is a challenge, but given how astonishingly great the Chaos Walking series is, it's a challenge worth taking. After that, Dietrich shares some thoughts on a fresh look at The Hunger Games books as well as a most unique murder mystery that takes place in the last place you'd ever expect.

28:21 - 1:14:52

Relationships: It's Valentine's Day, which means it's a time for love. But with so many books taking the Dirk Pitt approach to love (a quick fling, followed by a tragic death or a disappearing character), where are all the good examples of these? We take on a lot here, from how Jack Reacher's women are more interesting than Dirk Pitt's to how Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro make a compelling couple, from the time-sprawling love at the core of The Time Traveler's Wife to the historical cruelties of Memoirs of a Geisha to the skewed but hilarious assessments pronounced in High Fidelity. But more than that, we come again and again to the keys to making a relationship truly work in a novel - the importance of making both characters compelling, the willingness to ignore the boundaries of a book, and more. It may be a peculiarly masculine take on relationships this week (who else would seriously discuss Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling as a relationship?), but it's an interesting discussion all the same.

1:14:52 - 1:29:04

Off the Bookshelves: Lots to cover, as always, here, with me as usual diving into a bunch of movies and television. I've recently caught up on the controversial but gripping Shame and the absolutely riveting BBC miniseries State of Play, both of which get some detailed thoughts from me. Meanwhile, Dietrich gives a glowingly mediocre review of Tower Heist and suddenly discovers Mumford and Sons. But we close out the section with some discussion of the new film Chronicle, which defied both of our expectations by being surprisingly engaging, smart, exciting, and just generally great.

 

Episode 61

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Point of Impact

0:00 - 16:46

What We've Been Reading: No e-mails this week, but a surprisingly high number of recent reads gives us plenty to discuss here in our opening. While much of my week was spent reading Point of Impact for our main topic, I had some time to get into some other books as well, namely two more entries in the Sherlock Holmes series, which only gets better and better the longer it goes, and a not-too-surprisingly violent Western by Jack Ketchum. To top it all off, I share some opening thoughts on the Chaos Walking young adult series. Meanwhile, Dietrich ended up pretty disappointed with Ready Player One, but had a much happier experience with the newest Elmore Leonard book, Raylan, where Leonard adds another volume to the character that inspired the outstanding series Justified.

16:46 - 1:08:08

Point of Impact: Our second book club selection, Point of Impact tells the tale of a military sniper who finds himself set up for an assassination he didn't commit. It's a great premise, but do the book's flaws overwhelm its strengths? That's the heart of our debate here, with Dietrich loving the book warts and all, while I find myself unable to get past some major issues with the writing style, dialogue, and characters. Over the course of our discussion, we talk about ballistics details, prison rape, accents, isolation, and even Futurama to try to explain how we feel about this one. Do we persuade each other? Probably not...but it's an interesting listen nonetheless.

1:08:08 - 1:27:28

Off the Bookshelves: This week, I finally catch up with the recently Oscar-nominated film The Artist and find a lot to love, while also checking out the new HBO series Luck and finding it pretty promising indeed. As for Dietrich, he raves about the surprisingly great 50/50, laments the end of Chuck, enjoys Real Steel well enough, and tries his best to ignore the filmed version of One for the Money.

 

Episode 60

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So You Have a Kindle...Now What?

0:00 - 40:46

Emails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off this week with a listener e-mail that inspires a discussion about whether we're right in our predictions of the fall of Barnes and Noble, while our regular listener Robert Kristofferson sharing some funny books he's read as of late. Then it's on to our recent reads, which I kick off with a discussion of Clive Barker's young adult Abarat series, which is imaginative, incredible, and really dark. Meanwhile, Dietrich looks at a Tom Brokaw book surveying the new generation and what's to come, begins reading the comic series Y, The Last Man, and shares some thoughts on the beginning of Ready Player One.

40:46 - 1:18:50

So You Have a Kindle...Now What?: In the wake of a Christmas where the Kindle was the runaway best-selling present, we thought we'd take a week to give a beginner's guide to getting the best books you can for your Kindle or other e-reader. We talk about some of the advantages of disadvantages of free books and public domain stuff, the growing trend of digital lending through major libraries, and also share some feelings about the new burst in ad-supported Kindles and why they may be a better deal than you expect. On top of all that, we share some feelings on other ways to get deals, including author Twitter feeds, Project Gutenberg, Amazon's Daily Deal e-mails, and much, much more.

1:18:50 - 1:42:26

Off the Bookshelves: It's time for me to dive into some new releases, and I share some thoughts on the incredible Paradise Lost films, the underrated (and pitch-black) Young Adult, and the complex but rewarding Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Also, I give a shout out to the addictive but wonderful Carcassonne, the iPhone game that is really sucking away my free time these days. Dietrich, too, shares some cheap game thoughts on games like Ticket to Ride and Spell Tower, and also finally catches up on the incredible 2011 film Drive. Finally, Dietrich shares some thoughts on the new TV series Alcatraz and Touch, and we join up to share our love for the new season of Justified.

 

Episode 59

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Tickling the Funny Bone

0:00 - 25:59

Emails and What We've Been Reading: This week, our e-mails include Rob Kristofferson's thoughts on the best reads of 2011 and a challenge for Dietrich and I to come up with some predictions as to what the new year might hold for the book industry. Meanwhile, Dietrich shares some thoughts as he savors John Hodgman's That Is All while I wrap up Dan Wells' outstanding John Wayne Cleaver trilogy with I Don't Want to Kill You.

25:59 - 1:06:10

Tickling the Funny Bone: Inspired by our recent reading of John Hodgman's incredible and hilarious That Is All, this week Dietrich and I take a look at the books that have made us laugh. More than that, though, we take a look at why humor is so hard to make work on the written page and fully admit that our sense of humor may be a little sillier than that of other people. In addition, we take a look at how humor can be used in non-comedic works for a variety of purposes. But we couldn't do this topic without bringing up some of our favorite books that have made us laugh, ranging from the iconic Douglas Adams to the gleefully despicable characters of A Confederacy of Dunces and beyond.

1:06:10 - 1:17:22

Off the Bookshelves: This week, Dietrich spends some time checking out new cult classics, finally catching up on Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and re-watching the amazing and brilliant Black Dynamite (which leaves me wanting to rewatch it too). Meanwhile, I rave about the Nick Hornby-scripted An Education and implore people to check out The Intruder, a provocative and intense film about racial tensions that's lapsed into the public domain (and is watchable on YouTube here).

 

Episode 58

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The Best of 2011

0:00 - 21:59

Emails: We kick off this week with a trio of very different e-mails, all of which focus on very different things. To start with, Robert Kristofferson shares his thoughts on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Next, we get a slew of great-sounding recommendations, including a discussion as to why the novelization of the Star Wars prequels might just be worth reading after all. Finally, we try to help a parent who's working to show his son how to balance video games with reading, offering some thoughts about books and selections that might be right up a gamer's alley.

21:59 - 46:38

What We've Been Reading: Once again, a holiday break finds us with lots to talk about, book-wise. Dietrich catches up with the astonishing and stunning Winter's Bone, which both of us pretty easily pick as our best book of 2011. Beyond that, he finally reads the first book in the Discworld Watch series, and he shares some thoughts about a wide-ranging collection of essays from a favorite author. Meanwhile, I find an icy-cold and disturbing piece of noir from Jim Thompson, get back into the adventures of John Wayne Cleaver, and report back on the final fate of the insane world created by John Hodgman.

46:38 - 1:23:01

The Best of 2011: It's been a good year for reading, and while Dietrich and I both have lots to talk about - from the new Stephen King to a great Depression story of immortality, from a surprisingly moving romance to Texas horror - we both pretty easily settle on our favorite book of the year, the astonishingly beautiful Winter's Bone, by Daniel Woodrell. But there's time to get into lots of other favorites from the year, and we take the time to give out lots of shoutouts to the books that we loved this year. And, as a bonus, we share some thoughts on our favorite games and movies of the year, while deciding that our thoughts on the best TV of the year would kind of be unnecessary...

1:23:01 - 1:44:14

Off the Bookshelves: For once, Dietrich has a lot more movies than I do to talk about - a side effect of having Christmas traveling to do. All I have to share is some thoughts on the middling Sherlock Holmes sequel and the generally great The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; meanwhile, Dietrich looks at the docudrama Margin Call, the sociologically provocative The Wave, and we share some thoughts on Waiting for Superman (and why I don't know that I'll be able to watch it).

 

Episode 57

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

0:00 - 14:07

What We've Been Reading: In this, our last recording for 2011, Dietrich and I have a lot less books to talk about (due in no small part to the fact that we were both in the process of finishing up our respective school tenures). But we'd feel awkward if we left you with nothing! So I share some thoughts on the newest Terry Pratchett book and why I think it's good, but not up to par with his best, while Dietrich tries to sell people on a book about economics - a job I hope he succeeds with.

14:07 - 1:08:54 Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: When we picked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as our first book club selection, part of the reason we chose it was because Dietrich and I had such diametrically opposed feelings on the book based off of our earlier readings. To me, it's one of my all-time favorite books; to him, it was a boring tome devoid of any merit whatsoever. So we've both re-read it for this; how have the feelings changed? Listen in to our (spoiler-heavy) discussion as we discuss the characters, the prose and writing style, the social classes, and which of our viewpoints changed quite a bit upon reading the book again. (Hint: it wasn't me...)
1:08:54 - 1:26:35

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich shares some videogame knowledge, as is his wont, as he discusses Metro 2033, and we debate whether you would have had to play the first 2,032 volumes in the series to follow this one. Meanwhile, I try to review four movies in a very short amount of time while giving them all the attention and love they deserve.

 

Episode 56

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A Trio of Teachers

0:00 - 19:53

E-mails and What We're Reading Now: This week, we're joined this week by Jessica Davis, a middle school teacher from Springfield, Missouri, and Dr. Jennifer Kates, an English professor at Middle Tennessee State University. We kick off our time together this week with a discussion of unsympathetic and even dislikable main characters in fiction, a conversation prompted by some of our thoughts on A Confederacy of Dunces and an e-mail from a listener. As for our current reads, we hit a wide array of materials here, from the latest entry in the Eragon series to an unfocused fantasy read, from a supernatural thriller by Joe Lansdale to one of Pratchett's greatest works.

19:53 - 55:51 The Problems in Our Schools: This week, Dietrich moves into the moderator's chair to oversee our discussion about what we three teachers would change about the way our schools handle reading and English instruction. Every section has its own unique problems, with our college instructor lamenting having too much freedom and too much to cover, while as a high school teacher, I find myself consumed with envy at the thought of having such an issue. Meanwhile, our middle school teacher discusses the challenge in helping students start to see reading as something more than a chore. Somewhere along the way, we discuss the value of having textbooks, the importance of modern works, and why Julius Caesar and Antigone are horrible things to subject students to.
55:51 - 1:09:06 Off the Bookshelves: With Dr. Kates opting out of this one for fear of ruining her street cred, the three of us that remain still manage to find some things to discuss. Jessica raves about the USA show Psych, Dietrich catches up on (and loves) Kung Fu Panda 2 and uses it as recover from the bleak but stunning Restrepo, and I try to explain why I loved the challenging Melancholia and toss out a plug for the return of The Life and Times of Tim, one of my favorite and most neglected comedies of recent years.

 

Episode 55

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Part One | Part Two

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Terry "Mother$%*@er" Pratchett

Part One: E-mails and Recent Reads
0:00 - 29:45

Listener E-mails: We're joined by my good friend Ryan Williams this week for our main topic, but before we get there, it's time for e-mails. We cover lots this week, including the question of whether characters become less interesting as a series goes on and what advice we can give for an aspiring writer choosing a major. But the centerpiece of this section has to belong to a former shipmate of Dietrich's, who absolutely lays into us for our failings on the sports fiction question, all while giving Dietrich's fingers plenty of workout with regards to the profanity-editing buttons.

29:45 - 51:55 What We've Been Reading: Ryan kicks us off with an uncomfortable amount of information about his reading habits, but his focus remains on one of the original James Bond novels and his thoughts on the new Stephen King (which aren't quite as glowing as ours). Dietrich shocks everyone to their core by revealing that he's reading a book about video games (sure, he says it's scholarly, but we all know the truth). But it's me who spawns a surprisingly fiery discussion, not with the teen drama books I'm reading (and enjoyed a lot), but with my middling reaction to the new Chuck Palahniuk book, which proves to be still too positive for Ryan to bear.
Part Two: Terry Pratchett and Off the Bookshelves
0:00 - 45:05

Terry Pratchett: It's no secret that Dietrich and I are giant fans of Terry Pratchett, nor have I made it a secret that Ryan got me into the man's work in the first place. So it's fitting that he joins us this week for a discussion of Pratchett's talent, genius, creativity, and world. We take it all on here, from good books to start with to some of the various arcs within the series, from attempting to describe Pratchett's writing to laughing about some of our favorite episodes while giving nothing away. It's a long, passionate discussion about an author we all adore, and if we can convert even one person out there to reading Pratchett, then I think we'll end the episode quite satisfied.

45:05 - 59:27 Off the Bookshelves: We wrap up a long episode by diving into all kinds of media this week. Ryan and I get into a debate on whether They Live is an interesting failure or just execrable. Meanwhile, Dietrich sees the utterly forgettable Cowboys and Aliens, while I have a great music week with the release of The Roots' Undun and The Black Keys' El Camino.

 

Episode 54

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An Avalanche of Books

0:00 - 21:10

Listener E-mails: A few e-mails are waiting for us as we return this week, including one from our loyal listener Robert Kristofferson, who expands on our "thankfulness" list with some ideas of his own. Next, we go international with a great e-mail from a German listener who provides a massive list of books to check out, as well as making us a little sad that so little foreign literature comes to America. Finally, we try to explain why our e-mailers started abusing us, and we flail about sadly while attempting to come up with a list of modern sports fiction.

21:10 - 1:13:54 An Avalanche of Books: With a week off and a lot of time with extended families, is it any wonder that we both did a lot of reading while we were gone? There's a wide variety of stuff to take on here, and we look at all of it, including a sojourn into Ozark noir, a complicated murder plot involving a lion, a short story collection with a misleading title, a book from a friend and frequent podcast guest, and a weirdly unsettling tale from the author of The Haunting of Hill House.
1:13:54 - 1:31:44

Off the Bookshelves: We give a short reaction to The Walking Dead finale (summary: thumbs down) before getting into other stuff. I share some nostalgic love for The Muppets and try my best to convey how awesome Bigger Than Life is without giving away any of the fun. Meanwhile, Dietrich explains his misgivings about 30 Minutes or Less while further loving Saints Row the Third. And I wrap things up with a brief reaction to a game Dietrich loved and a short little freeware game that's well worth taking the time to check out.

 

Episode 53

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Thanksgiving 2: The Rethankening!

0:00 - 22:15

What We've Been Reading: We kick off the week with a long discussion of tips on writing, with me offering the perspective of an English teacher and Dietrich looking at it all from the author's point of view. From there, we move on to our week's reads, as Dietrich takes on a lengthy analysis of a critical issue within the modern news media, and I look into both a classic children's book and a disappointing new work from the usually reliable Robert McCammon.

22:15 - 56:36 Thanksgiving 2 - The Rethankening: It's been a rough year for the book industry, so we felt like we needed to take some time to find the good sides of it all. We find a lot of hope and unexpected consequences from the e-reader revolution, and we offer some observations about the ways that things might actually start to improve again as a result of it. In addition, we look at the rebirth of the young adult genre, and give a fond shoutout to the fans that have made our podcast successful and growing over the last year.
56:36 - 1:25:03

Off the Bookshelves: With shows about to move into their winter breaks, Dietrich and I take a look at two shows that have stumbled this season: Fringe and The Walking Dead. We talk about why each one is struggling, but why only one of them may be one that we stick with. Outside of that, Dietrich gets to dive into the bizarre insanity that is the new Saints Row game, and I immerse myself in the damaged title character of Martha Marcy May Marlene, all before bidding everyone adieu as we take a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

Episode 52

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The Life-Cycle of a Book

0:00 - 25:11

What We've Been Reading: We're joined this week by our friend and frequent guest Beth Terrell, who kicks off our recent reads with the debut novel by Bruce DeSilva, Rogue Agent. Meanwhile, I'm making my way through The Five, by Robert McCammon...but all in all, this week belongs to Stephen King, as Dietrich reads Mile 81, Beth takes on Full Dark, No Stars, and best of all, Dietrich and I both savor King's newest novel, 11/22/63, which we both think may rank among the best books he's written not just recently, but period.

25:11 - 1:17:44 The Genesis of Racing the Devil and 72 Hours: With two authors on the show this week, we take the chance to dive into the writing process, talking to Beth about her novel Racing the Devil and Dietrich about 72 Hours, his debut work. Sure, we talk about where ideas come from, but also who they gave their drafts to, how the books evolved over time, whether they bother to read reviews, the insanity of the publishing industry, and much more. Where else will you hear an author admit that she forgot to put a plot in her novel, or hear another one confess that his original draft featured a teenage girl who liked collecting human heads in buckets. Yup. You read that right.
1:17:44 - 1:30:21

Off the Bookshelves: We hit a wide range of stuff this week, kicking things off with Beth's feelings on the alien invasion comedy Paul. Meanwhile, I rave about an all-too-overlooked Hitchcock classic (Shadow of a Doubt) and one of the year's best films (Take Shelter). And, of course, it's a huge time for gaming, and there's no way Dietrich could avoid talking about Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3, is there?

 

Episode 51

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Top Five of All Time (Or, At Least, Right Now)

0:00 - 19:23

E-Mails and What We've Been Reading: We start off this week with an e-mail from loyal listener Robert Kristofferson, who reminds us of a few horror tales we definitely should have thought of, including the seminal "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream." From there, it's on to current reads. Dietrich kicks us off with a couple of acclaimed comic series, reading the first entries in Y: The Last Man and Locke and Key. Meanwhile, I've been slacking, giving me only two half-books to talk about: the surreal genius of Fugue State and the lexicon-driven anarchy of The Phantom Tollbooth.

19:23 - 1:11:14 The All-time Top Five (More or Less): With the disclaimer that we're setting aside Catch-22 (since it already got its own episode all to itself), Dietrich and I try to dig through all the books we've ever read and narrow our list down to five picks apiece. And while we're both already second-guessing our list, there's a lot of good stuff on here, from one of Stephen King's most epic horror novels to a life-changing look at life in the inner-city, from the tale of a lifelong friendship with a most unusual young man to the quintessential graphic novel, and much, much more. We can't guarantee that our list wouldn't change if we did this again tomorrow; what we can say is that this list will give you some amazing things to read, and each of them is remarkable for their own unique reasons.
1:11:14 - 1:28:40

Off the Bookshelves: It's a lowbrow week for me in this section, as I share some thoughts on a very late-in-life viewing of the original Godzilla (Gojira, if you want to be technical) and the new Harold and Kumar film. Meanwhile, Dietrich becomes the last person on the planet to watch Aladdin, as well as joining the viewers of the show Grimm.

 

Episode 50

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Things That Go Bump in the Podcast

0:00 - 34:00

E-Mails and What We've Been Reading: We kick off our big 5-0 with some detailed listener e-mails that get into some other entries in the children's books discussion as well as a rave about Joe Hill's Locke and Key. From there, it's off to what we've been reading, and both of us have a lot of love to share for The Infernals, the latest from John Connolly. Individually, Dietrich finally finishes up the Machine of Death short story collection, while I give some thoughts on Lee Child's entry into the Kindle Singles collection, Second Son.

Also, we take some time this week to announce our first book club novel: the amazing Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. We'll be devoting an entire episode to this book in four weeks, so we hope you join in by reading the book over the next few weeks. We hope you'll share your thoughts on the book with us - we're hoping to make this a community discussion, so e-mail us with your feelings!

Finally, throughout this week, you'll hear some congratulatory and/or insulting messages in celebration of our 50th podcast. So thanks this week to Rob Kristofferson, Larry Sterling, Ryan Williams, Adam Francescon, and Christopher Merchant for their contributions and for listening to us!

34:00 - 1:10:36 Books That Give Us the Creeps: The restriction this week is to talk about books that scare us without ever getting into the works of Stephen King, and it turns out we're both up to the challenge. Dietrich takes on works by H.P. Lovecraft, an early work by Clive Barker, a scene from The Magicians, and a masterpiece by Edgar Allan Poe, while I rave about works by Bentley Little, Sarah Langan, Scott Smith, and others. We also spend some time trying to figure out exactly what makes a great horror novel, as well as getting into lots of side discussions about truly creepy stuff.
1:10:36 - 1:35:11

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich gets his PBS documentary on with a look at a documentary about the 19th century version of the Internet, and comes away quite impressed with all he learned from it. Meanwhile, I plunged into a bunch of horror films this week, and share some thoughts on the best ones I saw, including the mind games of Anguish, the punk-rock zombie fun of The Return of the Living Dead, and the brutal, ambitious, and unforgettable French new-wave horror film Martyrs.

 

Episode 49

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A Hodgepodge of Topics

0:00 - 22:17

What We've Been Reading: Having gotten a Kindle for his birthday, Dietrich's embraced it all the way, checking out a book I loved (I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells) and picking up a collection we're both excited about (a complete H.P. Lovecraft collection for 99 cents!). Meanwhile, I finish up another Sherlock Holmes collection and reread John Connolly's gleefully demented The Gates...but all of that's just prelude for our discussion of the final Repairman Jack book. Spoiler warning: there's no way to talk about the Jack book without getting into plot discussion. So skip ahead if you need to - the discussion lasts from about 12:20 until 22:17, just so you know.

22:17 - 59:54 E-Mails and the Evolution of Geek Culture: In lieu of one big topic this week, Dietrich and I dive into the mailbag and take on a slew of littler topics. We kick it off by having a listener and me team up to rave about Dietrich's upcoming novel (since he won't do it himself). From there, there are additions to our children's literature list, a lament for the dearth of modern Westerns, surprising threats to kittens, and some new authors for Dietrich and I to check out. Finally, we get into a brief discussion about the recent surge in geek culture and how it's affected books, and whether that's something to be happy about or very concerned about - or maybe even both.
59:54 - 1:26:51

Off the Bookshelves: I share some thoughts on The Binding of Isaac, a game that Dietrich raved about last week, as well as sing the praises of Freaks, an oddball classic horror film that's unlike anything you've ever seen. Dietrich, meanwhile, is videogaming it up (as usual), with comments on Arkham City and Battlefield 3. And we don't neglect TV, either - Dietrich shares some thoughts on Once Upon a Time, and we debate how we're feeling about the new season of The Walking Dead.

 

Episode 48

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Building the World

0:00 - 11:57

What We've Been Reading: Dietrich is back into school full time again, which means his reading this week is limited to a reread of the seminal Jurassic Park, which we both love, but don't have much new to say about. Meanwhile, I return from vacation with a lot read, but I can't say much about the heavy hitter on my list, the final Repairman Jack novel, since Dietrich hasn't gotten to it yet. Instead, I find myself trying to parse my complicated feelings for the Jack Ketchum novel Stranglehold, which left me horrified and uncomfortable, and yet left me impressed with its skill in many ways.

11:57 - 46:51 World Building: If there's one thing Dietrich and I find ourselves praising a lot, it's the building of a rich world for characters to inhabit. So this week, we take on the idea of world building and try to understand how to do it well. We look at everything from fantasy (naturally) and science fiction (again, kind of assumed) to crime and beyond, and we discuss how much world building relies on details and consistency. We also talk about whether a rich world is enough to make a great book, or if it's even a requirement.
46:51 - 1:05:47

Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich beats me with stuff to talk about here, discussing a game based on Biblical child sacrifice and a film about economic theory applied to baseball. Meanwhile, I give some thoughts about the new season of Fringe, and we both share some expectations about the new season of The Walking Dead. In addition, we share some thoughts about the state of the podcast itself, and ask for listener feedback about some ideas we're considering implementing.

1:05:47 - 1:25:16 Breaking Bad Season 4 Wrap-up: You had to know that there was no way we could let a stunning finale like this one pass without some discussion. Spoilers for season 4 abound here, but we talk about how it all wrapped up, what's next for Walt and crew, and how we feel about the state of the show at the end of the season. (Also, if you're curious about the long piece I wrote about season 4 that I allude to here, you can find it here.)

 

Episode 47

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Children's Books and the SCBWI

0:00 - 22:57

Library Police Jr. Deputy Edition: To start off this children's literature-themed episode, Dietrich and I begin talking about the books we loved as kids, but find ourselves focusing more on the books our children love now. I focus on my son's love of the Magic Tree House series, Pippi Longstocking, and The Hobbit, and we both reminisce about the genius of writers like Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, and Judy Blume.

22:57 - 32:12 An interview with Kristin O'Donnell Tubb: Recently, Dietrich got to attend the conference for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and do some interviews with some of the authors who attended. First off, he sits down with Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, author of Selling Hope and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, two books that take a historical perspective of the Great Smokey Mountains and Halley's Comet. Kristin talks about the challenges of writing historical fiction, how she got started, and her love of history.
32:16 - 46:38

An Interview with Linda Sue: Linda Sue, author of A Long Walk To Water, 39 Clues: Storm Warning, and the 2002 Newbery Award Winner A Single Shard, discusses drawing inspiration from her Korean heritage, writing a children's book about a Sudanese lost boy, and her approach toward writing for children.

46:38 - 57:30 An Interview with Ruta Sepetys: NY Times bestselling author Ruta Sepetys sits down to discuss Between Shades of Grey, her young adult novel about a Lithuanian girl deported by the Soviet secret police to a prison camp in Stalinist Russia. As if that topic wasn't challenging enough, she also cheerfully reveals her plans for her next book about the daughter of a New Orleans prostitute.

 

Episode 46

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Looking to the Past

0:00 - 15:45

Listener E-Mails and Kindle Discussion: We kick off the week with a discussion of October book-reading: do we find ourselves drifting more towards horror novels at this time of year? From there, we segue into a discussion of the news from the world of Amazon, which last week announced new models and prices of the Kindle, including multiple models that are below $100. We talk about what we think all of this means for the industry and e-reading in general, as well as what everyone's new Christmas present is going to be now.

15:45 - 36:28 What We're Reading Now: I kick us off this week with a discussion of the Internet phenomenon turned real life book John Dies at the End, which I went into with some trepidation but found myself absolutely adoring by the end of it. I also share some thoughts on Edge, a new Jeffery Deaver book that I'm not finding so thrilling at this point. Dietrich, meanwhile, is having a nonfiction kind of week, reading Blur (a discussion on the state of the cable and network news) and Boomerang (an analysis of how the world's economy got to the very bad place it's in), all while somehow managing not to drown himself in drink.
36:28 - 1:11:44

The Relationship Between the Past and the Present: This week's podcast is a response to a recent episode of the AV Club's podcast, itself a response to a recent GQ article that, in arguing that the present has plenty of worthwhile films to watch, also determined that the past was utterly without value and not worth checking out. The AV Club discussed this issue as it pertained to film, TV, and music; Dietrich and I decided to take the discussion to the world of books. We found ourselves disagreeing a little more than we expected here, but at the same time, I think we both found a lot of common ground in the discussion, but more than that, we discussed how dislike of both the past and the present can arise, and why both have their problems for any serious reader.

1:11:44 - 1:29:03 Off the Bookshelf: As usual, it's movie discussion from me, as I discuss the fun you can have watching Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil upend genre conventions and how the documentary Superheroes might make you genuinely feel better about the world as a whole. Meanwhile, Dietrich goes retro for his gaming discussion this week, talking about the recently re-released ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, before turning his attention to the new TV season, specifically Terra Nova.

 

Episode 45

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Gratuitous Podcasting

0:00 - 21:32

Listener E-Mails and What We're Reading Now: This week, we're joined by Christopher Merchant, the editor for Middle Tennessee State University's student newspaper, Sidelines. To kick off the episode, we enjoy a pat on the back for talking about The King of Kong, but we also field a listener question about the apparent dearth of female writers in the horror/thriller sections of the bookstores. From there, it's on to current reads, with Chris pondering how Samuel Coleridge ever became famous, Dietrich revisiting the earliest Repairman Jack book, and me returning to the Sherlock Holmes series. Finally, we wrap it all up by talking a little bit about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, which Chris has recently begun.

21:32 - 52:47 Gratuitous Sex and Violence in Fiction: Recently, we got a listener e-mail about the line between necessary and gratuitous as it pertains to violence and sex in books. It was a debate we didn't seem to settle strongly enough, so this week we visit it in more depth (with some listener prodding). We look at everything from stealing fat in Fight Club to the motif of sexual violence in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, from the violence of Clive Barker all the way to the depraved excesses of American Psycho, and struggle to see where a line can be drawn. I'm not sure we reach any conclusions, but I think it's an informative discussion nonetheless.
52:47 - 1:11:06

Off the Bookshelves: We've got a pretty diametrically opposed pair of films to talk about this week, as I rave about the moody, existential neo-noir Drive, while Dietrich feels let down by the recent female-led comedy Bridesmaids. And, of course, it wouldn't be an "Off the Bookshelves" without videogame chat, so we touch on Gears of War 3 and revisit BioShock 2, which Chris is diving into. Oh, and I do my best to encapsulate just how amazing Patton Oswalt's new comedy album is. (Spoiler alert: very.)

1:11:06 - 1:22:31 Breaking Bad Bonus Section: If you saw last week's episode of Breaking Bad, entitled "Crawl Space," you'll understand that there's no way we could let a week go by without talking about this one. We put this at the end so you could skip it if you wanted, but let me just say: if you're not watching Breaking Bad, you're missing out. Period.

 

Episode 44

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An Interview with John Connolly

0:00 - 13:57

Listener E-Mails and What We're Reading Now: This week, we get an e-mail from a listener who shares some of our recent joys with regards to authorial love, and we also end up discussing our feelings on the upcoming season of The Walking Dead. As for recent reads, Dietrich sings the praises of The Burning Soul, while I try to explain exactly what makes Dan Wells' fascinating I Am Not a Serial Killer such a riveting read, despite what should be a stupid premise.

13:57 - 1:12:20 A Conversation with John Connolly: This week, we talk to the amazing and talented John Connolly, whose Charlie Parker series has become one of my "must reads," and whose young adult fiction has come to be seen as truly noteworthy and engaging. In a lengthy, funny, engaging conversation with us, John discusses how critical setting is to crime fiction, explores some of the history and old taboos of mystery and crime writing, explains how he decided that Satanism for kids was a valuable and untapped market, gently reminds us of the rules of a literary dictatorship, clarifies his position on coming to your house and sitting on you while reading books, and shares the genesis of a brilliant and truly unnerving short story.
1:12:20 - 1:27:47

Off the Bookshelves: I further alienate anyone who wants "regular" movie advice from me by recommending a documentary about video games (The King of Kong) and a silent horror film about a circus performer (The Unknown). (In my defense, both of them are amazing, albeit in entirely different ways.) Dietrich, meanwhile, has a bit of a disappointing experience with the new videogame Dead Island, but gets a genuinely pleasing surprise in the form of a Sports Illustrated article about an incredibly talented young girl.

 

Episode 43

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A Talk with Joe R. Lansdale

0:00 - 23:07

Listener E-Mails and What We're Reading Now: This week, one listener asks a tough question: when is horror genuinely edgy and effective, and when is it just wallowing in filth? Also, we quickly reach a consensus for another listener who wonders if it's even worth checking out Jeffery Deaver. (Spoiler: yes.) After that, I give some thoughts on a nicely creepy short story by Stephen King that's available on the Kindle, followed by some praise for the second volume in Joe Lansdale's Hap and Leonard books. Dietrich closes us up this week with two books he's currently in the middle of: the latest from John Connolly and an entry in the Kathy Reichs series that (apparently very loosely) inspired the TV show Bones.

23:07 - 51:13 A Talk with Joe R. Lansdale: In an absolute treat for us, Dietrich and I got to talk with Joe R. Lansdale, author of such amazing works as The Complete Drive-In and The Best of Joe R. Lansdale, as well as the story that served as the basis for the horror-comedy-drama hybrid Bubba Ho-Tep. We talk with Joe about the recurring theme of aging characters in his books, how Hap and Leonard became the duo that they are, how The Complete Drive In was a painful task to write, and his ups and downs with Hollywood.
51:13 - 1:01:00

Off the Bookshelves - Breaking Bad Season 4: In the first part of Off the Bookshelves, we have a lengthy discussion about the current season of Breaking Bad, discussing the events so far and the possible ramifications. This is a pretty spoiler-heavy section, so if you're wanting to save yourself the spoilers on the show, jump on ahead to the next part...

1:01:00 - 1:18:06 Off the Bookshelves Part II: In the rest of our Off the Bookshelves chat, I share some thoughts on the recently concluded seasons of two very different, very ambitious, very fascinating FX comedies. Dietrich, meanwhile, explains why hypochondriacs need to avoid seeing the movie Contagion and discusses one of his favorite games that's finally made its way to the PC platform.

Episode 42.5

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An Interview with Ryan Mecum

0:00 - 11:31

An Interview with Ryan Mecum: Dietrich sits down with author Ryan Mecum to talk about his wholly unique combination of poetry (in haiku form) and zombie horror. Ryan opens up about how this unusual idea arose, gives some nods to the zombie horror greats, and discusses where one can go from writing zombie haiku.

Episode 42

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Elves, Murder, and Undercover Cops

0:00 - 28:36

What We've Been Reading: After a couple of weeks without being able to talk reads, Dietrich and I finally get to discuss our opinion of The Magician King (podcast spoiler alert: it's really, really good). We also both take on some reads by Joe Lansdale, with Dietrich finally experiencing The Complete Drive-In and me diving into the Hap and Leonard series with Savage Season. Finally, I have two solid new books by two favorite authors with very similar names: I return to John Connolly's Charlie Parker series with The Burning Soul and Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller books in The Fifth Witness.

28:36 - 36:51 Killer Nashville Impressions: Now that it's all over and we've had some time to rest, what did we think of Killer Nashville? Dietrich and I take a look back at an engaging and lively presentation by the head of the Body Farm, a surprisingly great talk by the man mostly known for the Murder, She Wrote books, a humbling experience revolving around our business cards, and a slew of other assorted impressions and thoughts about this year's conference.
36:51 - 49:46 D. Alan Lewis: For our first interview this week, Dietrich and I sit down with author D. Alan Lewis, who offers a book that's part murder mystery, part alternate history, part dystopian vision, and part Christmas tale. Yes, you read that right. Hear how he got the inspiration for this odd combination and how publishers have reacted to it as he's gone.
49:46 - 1:09:39 Marco Conelli: A former NYPD undercover policeman, Marco Conelli has started into his second career as a young adult author who's trying to move YA detective stories away from the legacy of the Hardy Boys. We talk to him about that, but also his experience as a policeman, including a surprising discussion of who criminals are truly most afraid of.
1:09:39 - 1:23:40

Off the Bookshelves: As is our wont, Dietrich shares some love for a new videogame (Deus Ex: Human Revolution), and I catch up with a surprisingly strong recent release (Kung Fu Panda 2). But in a bit of a different mode this week, we also share some recent music that's really working for us. Dietrich looks at Jonathan Coulton's new album, in which the nerd culture songmaster moves a little more mainstream. Meanwhile, I dive into the latest releases by Nashville's own rock band The Features and singer/songwriter/rocker Butch Walker.

Episode 41

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LIVE (sort of) from Killer Nashville

0:00 - 45:01 Podcasting: A Beginner's Guide: For our panel at Killer Nashville, Dietrich and I tried to give some tips, thoughts, discussion, and pointers on podcasting. So, no, this section isn't much about books. What it is about is a little backstory to how this whole podcast came to be, the efforts we've been putting in behind the scenes, and just a general discussion about how to make your podcast stand out from the herd. On top of that, we take some great questions, including one about episode length and one about difficult interviews.
45:01 - 1:12:30 An Interview with Robert Pobi and Eyre Price: An author whose first book (involving a sheriff with Benzedrine-addicted spiders living in his head) will be released soon, Robert Pobi got our attention with a question he asked at a panel we attended (I wouldn't dream of giving it away - you'll have to listen to hear more), and we knew then and there we had to interview this guy. When we caught up with him, he introduced us to Eyre Price, a mystery author whose first book, set in the midst of Memphis rock and roll, is also on the way to bookshelves. We sat down with these guys and talked about everything from the state of the industry to the e-book revolution to how much (or how little) they read in their spare time. It doesn't matter if you've never heard of these guys; give them a listen and I think you'll find yourself as eager to see their work as we are.

Episode 40

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Characters to Remember

0:00 - 21:41 What We've Been Reading: After Dietrich explains why he decided to pick a fight with gravity, we both discuss our (strongly positive) first impressions of The Magician King, the much-anticipated sequel to The Magicians, a book we both adored. In addition, I discuss the concluding volume in a profound and complex multi-book science-fiction epic, and Dietrich finally takes on one of the greatest graphic novels ever written: Maus, by Art Spiegelman.
21:41 - 1:01:49 Characters in Fiction: Characters are the name of the game this week, and we hit a wide variety this week. We take a look at what makes a great secondary character by looking at a sociopathic arms dealer and a pair of gay criminals who inhabit some of our favorite crime novels, pick apart the psyches of the bizarre cast of Catch-22, and discuss how effectively first-person can be used, especially in the case of The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time. And, yes, no discussion of characters would be complete without a certain literate, charming, unsettling, evil serial killer who redefined a genre - but should he be considered a solo effort or part of a mutually dependent pairing?
1:01:49 - 1:29:25 Off the Bookshelves: As is our wont right now, we dive back into the current season of Breaking Bad and find ourselves debating what's to come. I rave about Errol Morris's Tabloid, a documentary that's high on my list of the year's best movies, while Dietrich catches up on the great thriller The Town and reminisces about a neglected comedy TV series. And finally, we wrap it up with quite possibly the most bizarre juxtaposition we've ever made: Dietrich talks about a card game that revolves around monkeys flinging poop at each other, while I follow that by discussing the release of the West Memphis 3 and what a profoundly moving and affecting experience I found watching their release to be.

Episode 39

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With Lots of Letter E's

0:00 - 31:15 Listener E-mails: Dietrich and I re-introduce special guest Beth Terrell, who then fills us in on some details about this year's Killer Nashville conference and what it might have in store. After that, Dietrich and I try to help a listener figure out where to get started reading the Repairman Jack mythology. After that, we take a long look at gimmick books, including a book written around the bewildering choice to omit the letter "e", and then take a look at six English class standards to see if they belong there or not.
31:15 - 47:25 What We're Reading: This week, I can barely contain my raves for The Best of Joe R. Lansdale, a collection of splatterpunk Texas redneck black-humored horror tales with heart, and I share some thoughts on the re-reading of Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. Dietrich and Beth, meanwhile, share two very different reads about dogs, as well as the tale of a mountain climb that doesn't exactly go according to plan.
47:25 - 1:21:23 Main Topic: As should be obvious by now, Dietrich and I are voracious readers (and Beth is no slouch herself). But how do we move beyond our favorites and current loves and find new authors? We take a look at that process this week, looking at the benefits of everything from Amazon to used bookstores and everything in between. We also look at the fine art of the author blurb, the joys of discount racks, the benefits of Twitter and sites like the Onion's AV Club, and lots more ways to find books you might never have discovered otherwise.
1:21:23 - 1:41:20 Off the Bookshelves: We told you this would happen a lot: Dietrich and I have a talk about the state of the newest season of Breaking Bad. Apart from that, I get nostalgic with Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Dietrich dives into indie games, and we talk about new sci-fi releases like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Cowboys and Aliens.

Episode 38

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The Devil is in the Details

0:00 - 14:22 Listener E-mails and What We've Been Reading: Not a lot of e-mails this week, apart from a reference to a pretty amazing shout out we got. What we do have is me reviewing the second Sherlock Holmes novel and the first few stories in a spectacular collection of redneck satirical splatterpunk horror works, and Dietrich visiting one of the best of all of the Discworld books.
14:23 - 15:58 Funky Time: Presented without comment or apology.
15:59 - 54:55 Main Topic: Research: it can make a great book collapse or make a good book into something great. We take a look at the research that underlies some of the works of great authors and their best works, and discuss how research can show up in everything from science to the descriptions of a city. And, of course, we take a look at examples of research done right and research done wrong - sometimes by the same author.
54:56 - 1:16:55 Off the Bookshelves: In a strange reversal, Dietrich talks up a bunch of movies and we find ourselves agreeing on, of all things, the fact that Justin Timberlake seems to be underrated as an actor and screen presence. Meanwhile, to complete the reversal, I start a conversation about video games - specifically, the Bioshock series, which I recently completed.

Episode 37

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Is the Book Industry Deader Than a Hobo?

0:00 - 18:03 Listener E-mails and What We've Been Reading: Our beloved and cruel e-mail champion Colin comes back with a great response to Ryan's spirited defense last week. Our own co-host answers his own e-mail (in what has to be a violation of the use of Time Turners), and we get some general feedback on our recent guests. Then, it's on to our current reads, as Adam sings the praises of the Jack Reacher series, I finally dive into the first novels of Sherlock Holmes, and Dietrich reads books about Mormons and time-traveling monks (separate books, sadly).
18:04 - 1:04:58 Main topic: In the wake of the collapse of Borders, we find ourselves wondering what's to become of print bookstores in the post-Kindle era. And despite our initial sad and mournful response to the news, we find that there's a lot to be said for Internet shopping, and that we may be looking at major bookstores through some rose-tinted glasses. And, of course, we find ourselves debating the future of e-readers (and why Adam needs to join the 21st century and get one).
1:04:59 - 1:31:55 Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich goes to see Captain America with high hopes and comes out entirely empty of response. Adam and I go see a cheesy, goofy teen comedy with the Ramones and end up having a blast. Who's the winners here, eh? Also, we discuss the solid film adaptation of a Michael Connelly novel, as well as Julianne Moore's career decisions, including The Kids Are All Right. Oh, and we get to share some Jonathan Coulton songs with all of you, because he's fantastic, funny, and just generally a joy.

Episode 36

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Harry Potter and the Prison of Adaptations

0:00 - 25:03 Listener E-mails: After introducing our special guests (listener and frequent e-mailer Kyle Boyd and logo designer/cinephile Ryan Williams), we discuss books that we consider "comfort food," have a long discussion about why sex scenes in books are so often awkward and uncomfortable, and are reduced to uncontrollable laughter by a listener's insults. Oh, and Ryan rises to our defense in a wonderful and hilarious rant against an innocent e-mailer.
25:04 - 42:43 What We've Been Reading: Lots of good books this week, as Kyle finally gets around to checking out The Hunger Games (yay!), Ryan cracks open the autobiography of an acting legend, I return to the Agent Pendergast books, and Dietrich (showing off by reading two books this week) shares his experiences with two very different fantasy novels.
42:44 - 1:43:59 Main topic: Our planned discussion about book-to-film adaptations that surpass the source material ends up getting off to a long, long derail about the Harry Potter films and whether they're good adaptations or good films - or neither, perhaps. Finally, we get back to the main topic we planned, discussing why films have nothing to do with the greatness of their source material, give a rundown of some of the best adaptations from books to film, and have a bit of a debate about whether being a good adaptation is the same thing as being a good movie.
1:44:00 - 2:07:30 Off the Bookshelves: Ryan finally catches up with Toy Story 3, and Kyle shames herself and her family by not loving it, or the freaking Beatles. (I know. It's hard for me to take too.) To her credit, though, she shares some much needed love for the cult hit Friday Night Lights. Dietrich tries to find words to describe Rango but fails. And I finally get to explode in glee with the return of Breaking Bad.

Episode 35

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Repairman Jack

0:00 - 13:53

What we're reading now: We discuss our recent reads, including an entry in Dietrich's guilty pleasure series One for the Money by Stephanie Evanovich; The Sladen Suit, a great Kindle short story by Brian Evenson; and one of the seminal spy novels, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré.

14:04 - 59:00
Main topic: We plunge into the world of the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson, trying to explain why this series has become one of our all-time favorites as well as attempting to give a feel for what you're getting in for when you jump in. We also touch on some of Wilson's other books, especially his apocalyptic Adversary Cycle.
59:12 - 1:20:05
Off the Bookshelves: Dietrich shares some videogame love for the alternate history fun of Red Alert 3 and gives a shout out to a couple of great recent releases (Horrible Bosses and Source Code). Meanwhile, I make another futile attempt to get people to check out a depressing documentary (GasLand) and an incredible foreign thriller (Cell 211).

Episode 34

A Game of Thrones: In which we deal with a large amount of feedback on our contentious "darkness in young adult fiction" episode, discuss a pair of nonfiction books by a single author, finally dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes, take a looooooooooooooooong look at the adaptation process of Game of Thrones, analyze the differences between the two versions, single out the strongest characteristics of both of them, gush over the benefits of good casting, try to find non-explicit words to describe Joffrey Baratheon, explain what exactly makes the book/story so outstanding and worth reading, pick out a pair of completely different music-related projects for praise, review a ton of games in under a minute or two, and try to have a civil discussion about Transformers 3 before accidentally triggering a fairly frustrated rant about the irritation that is being told to "turn off your brain"...

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Episode 33

The Darkness of Young Adult Fiction: In which we try to give some advice for prospective authors, find ourselves wondering what dead authors would be great guests for our podcast, revisit a staple of the science-fiction genre, rave about another collection of essays from Michael Chabon, delve into the thorny debate around darkness in young adult fiction, find ourselves agreeing more than we thought with an article that rants against such violence (and started the debate), still find much to admire in the stance of a challenged YA author who defends the darkness of the genre, beg for feedback from our listeners on the difficult questions raised by our debate, do our best to keep our final segment a lot more positive than last week, spread the joy of shows like Futurama, Louie, and the new weirdness of Wilfred, and remind ourselves that not all video games are as awful as DNF...

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Episode 32

Memoirs of a Podcast: In which we give a window into the current reading habits of high school students, offer suggestions for gifts listeners can get us, review the newest entries in a couple of series (one successful, one not so much), share a new volume in the "Damn, Nature, You Scary!" genre, discuss the surprisingly high number of sports-related memoirs we like, offer up a few memoirs that give a window into the creative process both of writers and directors, give respect to one of the manliest men who ever lived, reveal a few of our little obsessions, rave about a few memoirs that have affected us deeply, delve into the surprisingly creepy hobby of a very unique college student, and bookend our generally positive closing section with a pair of seriously bilious rants about some incredibly offensive and angering entertainment...

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Episode 31

Math, Science, and the Platypus: In which we are reveal the secrets of Dietrich's mother, are joined once again by Jason Martin, share some thoughts on the recent burst of modernized classics, discuss recent reads on everything from physics to magic to adventurers, give a hat tip to the men who made science and math cool for even the non-nerd to be seen reading, convince people that particle physics can be surprisingly accessible as a subject for a book, share a book that gives some insight into how the brain works, look at a couple of fascinating variations on behavioral economics, reveal a book that tells how rabbits can grow horns, manage to find a couple of kid's books that dive surprisingly deep into math and science, touch on some fiction based in nothing less than the theory of relativity, blaspheme by giving a shout-out to other podcasts, tie entertainment into our topic with a recent documentary and a popular TV show, and even manage to have a conversation about international trends in video games...

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Episode 30

Scrounging in the Mailbag: In which we share an essential book for any young boy, discuss science fiction both by a modern master and a new voice (to us, anyways), remember a sci-fi short story that will haunt your dreams, share a nasty little work of horror fiction about the gender wars, dive into our mailbag, apologize for another author's butchered name, try to give some advice on getting into graphic novels and Stephen King, look at major literary "events" like The Da Vinci Code that just didn't work for us, come up with some "spooky" books for a young audience, debate how well print will survive in the digital age and whether used books should make us feel guilty, get scolded for forgetting a few essential sci-fi titles, FINALLY discuss the Game of Thrones HBO series, and talk about recent movie watches ranging from superhero films to off-the-wall documentaries...

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Episode 29

Killer Nashville: In which we're joined by our first-ever return guest as well as the executive director for Nashville's mystery/thriller conference (Killer Nashville), we discuss recent books with authors ranging from movie stars to famous directors to outspoken socialists (oh, and some guy named Stephen King), try to figure out why humor is so hard to do on the written page, point people in the direction of authors who could help the aspiring writers, explain what Killer Nashville is and why you should want to go, find a surprising method of voiding your stove's warranty, bring up a surprisingly sad story about Santa and a leprechaun, hash out the logistics of setting up a crime scene, announce that we're getting to do an episode at Killer Nashville, give me a guilt trip about still being behind on Game of Thrones, revisit a great movie about high school and the 1970s, and finally step away for a richly-deserved week off...

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Episode 28

Bite-Sized Topic: In which we spend an unusually long time discussing recent reads, analyze the second issue in an academic magazine about video games, rave about a new collection of Repairman Jack stories, finally get Dietrich the right Jack Reacher book for his moods, have a long discussion about an ambitious but flawed science-fiction author, name a few great audiobooks, as well as one that's not so great, give some advice on how to get turned onto new authors, dole out a few plugs for some of our favorite book reviewers, plunge into a world of nostalgia before becoming unnaturally obsessed with the creature only known as SPACE VAMPIRE (BLEAH! BLEAH!), try to come back to sanity by analyzing what makes a great villain, finally hash out the Fringe finale, and discuss a remarkable and unique science exhibit in Chicago...

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Episode 27

Authors and Their Outliers: In which we get some mail from repeat e-mailers, compare a couple of post-apocalyptic horror epics, tell a story about Stephen King to kick off our main topic, discuss why an odd book from Jeffery Deaver is one of his best works, analyze why these outliers inspire both excitement and disappointment, discuss the way that genres aren't the only way for an author to break out of the routine, take a sad look at some times that a few of our favorite authors have stumbled, praise some authors we're not big fans of that have unexpectedly come through with a great read, and rave about the recently ended second season of FX's original series Justified...

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Episode 26

Our Fantasy of a Podcast: In which we welcome another special guest (this one of a more masculine variety), talk about a great book by George Pelecanos, rave about a surprisingly strong horror epic, look at another work by the man picked to finish Robert Jordan's legacy, struggle to define exactly what fantasy is, provide an overview of three of the heaviest hitters of the genre, extol the virtues of fantasy all while admitting to its weaknesses, take a rare chance to bash on an author that exemplifies the problems with fantasy, attempt to give some entry points into it all, rave a bit about the current spate of good television, and have one Portal 2 aftershock...

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Episode 25

The Books of War: In which we answer a slew of e-mails with comments and disagreements about our political view episode, discuss a harrowing true story of a man who stuck it out through Katrina, praise the book that revolutionized war writing, examine a sweeping account of a famous Civil War battle, revisit one of the essential modern war works, take a look at a few accounts of men who have been through war and find themselves scarred in more ways than one, compare two books about day-to-day life in the two different Iraq wars, briefly touch on the new Game of Thrones series, and have a massive (and lengthy) geek-gasm about the arrival and incredible success of Portal 2...

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Episode 24

Don't Judge a Book by Its Author...: In which we get asked to provide parenting advice (!), do our best to clarify the line between literature and airport fiction, try to explain how we have so much time to read with our personal lives, discuss entries in series by authors we love, praise some authors who bring something very different to the crime genre, hash out some very interesting interpretations of a famous science-fiction work, surprise ourselves with how much we keep praising Tom Clancy, earn lots of e-mail on all sorts of topics, attempt to excuse the sins of the past when they don't impact the work, find some nice things to say about an author we don't even really like that much, and discuss movies ranging from an all-time classic to an all-time worst, with some stops along the way...

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Episode 23

Return to the Lost Literary Episode: In which we discuss recent reads ranging from the nearly pornographic to the disturbingly true, attempt to open people's minds to books beyond airport fiction, try to figure out exactly what "serious" literature really is, remind everyone of the importance of a good translator, praise recent masters like Michael Chabon and Cormac McCarthy, try to give people a window into the joys of counterculture literature, illustrate the various ways that crime fiction can move beyond entertainment and into literature, discuss surprisingly great older and accessible literature like Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales, hear my shameful cinema confession, and bring up an awesome forgotten blaxploitation classic...

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Episode 22

Dear Authors...Here's What We Would Do: In which we get graded on our female author extravaganza, receive obscene artwork, force me to justify my Anne Rice dislike, beg for some consistency with e-books, plead that authors quit taking so long, remind everyone of how effective and worthwhile short stories can be, debate the necessity of turning everything into a multi-book series, cajole others into living on the edge and recapturing past glories, put a challenge out there for readers to heed, discuss a couple of films chock full of prescient social commentary, and gush over of one of our favorite video games of all time...

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Episode 21

It Came from Outer Space: In which we attempt to remember how to fend for ourselves on the podcast, discuss recent books ranging from graphic novels to children's series to misfires from favorite authors, give respect to the past masters of science fiction, take a long look at a few current authors who are really establishing themselves as some current standouts, try to understand why some former genre stars seem to be backing away from it, blame the genre's decline on George Lucas and Douglas Adams, share an intense foreign film about nitroglycerine and rocky roads, and catch up with a veritable classic of the science fiction film genre...

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Episode 20

Literature for the Ladies: In which we are joined by a couple of special guests for the episode's duration, discuss recent reads both feminine and more general, wrestle with the difficulties in defining books as being for a specific gender, delve into the mysterious and bewildering world of Amish romance novels, discuss a variety of books that we feel move beyond our normally masculine limitations, analyze the recent burst of feminism and female heroes in young adult fiction, lament pop culture failings from Big Love to Battle: Los Angeles, plug a podcast by the spectacular John Hodgman, and wrap up with some interesting housekeeping notes...

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Episode 19

A Dark and Stormy Podcast: In which we get a few more recommendations for our upcoming women's podcast; try to sort out our complicated feelings about the new edition of Huckleberry Finn; discuss books about magic, witches, murder, and globalization; try to articulate where horror ends and crime fiction begins; dive into the masters of the genre past and present; open up a few possible gateways to the genre; dig up a few obscure gems that are worth seeking out; talk about some recent watches about everything from love to serial killing; and slowly watch our podcast fall apart in the closing minutes...

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Episode 18

The Butler Did It: In which we answer a few questions from a tweeting listener, list some foreign films for people who think they hate foreign films, discuss recent reads ranging from children's books about spies to adult books about spies to children's books written for adults, try to figure out exactly what makes a twist ending successful (and for that matter, what they are, exactly), share a few that fail miserably, attempt to talk around some of our favorite twists without giving them away, and rant about the shameful practice of editing films for content as well as the Oscars and why they don't matter...

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Episode 17

Catch-22: In which we learn the horrors our podcast has unleashed on the world, rave about Swedish vampires and Jack Reacher, revisit great books by Deaver and Cormier, fail miserably to describe the plot of Catch-22, pick apart its themes and ideas, discuss one of the most haunting scenes in all of literature, try to understand why nothing Heller did ever compared to his first book, gleefully revel in the return of Justified, happily find that Eminem's returned to form, and warn people why I Am Number Four may be morally bankrupt and that James Frey is a reprehensible human being...

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Episode 16

Young Adult Novels: In which we get a few book recommendations, articulate the problems with getting foreign language books in America, try to drum up books for a very worthy cause, get taken to task (correctly) for our masculine leanings, hash out a ton of recent reads by some of our favorite authors (Pratchett, Oswalt, Turtledove, Wilson), address the six-hundred-pound gorillas of the young adult world, try to introduce people to the brutal honesty of Robert Cormier and Maniac McGee, look at some adult authors who handle young adult fiction beautifully, share some traumatic lessons from The Sims, and rave about the best vampire film ever made (and a couple of other movies, too)...

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Episode 15

Monocles Everywhere!: In which we lament the loss of last week's work, finally solve the Chabon mystery, dive back into the world of Repairman Jack, discuss the work of a graphic novel legend, talk about horror ranging from zombies to baseball, survey some of the essential military non-fiction works, remind people that The Perfect Storm was a great book before it was a crappy film, try to sell people on a book of essays about grammar, effuse over Jon Krakauer and David Simon, look back at one of the seminal works in the nonfiction genre, discuss a few somewhat offbeat movies, and generally mock Dietrich's musical tastes from a decade ago...

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Episode 14

Back to School: In which we learn how woefully inadequate our discussion and listing of crime authors was, disappoint listeners by criticizing a popular author, discuss some depressing and/or horrific books we've read lately, look back at high school reading, try to come to a consensus on Shakespeare, pick a few gems from the secondary school canon, watch me burn all of my English teacher credentials, share some thoughts about books that should be taught in schools, discuss a couple of classic films that I finally watched, and lay the groundwork for next week's episode...

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Episode 13

Crime Novels: In which we hear how we cost someone a lot of money, think back to books that made us laugh, talk about two very different short story collections, try to pick apart the crime genre to see what makes it tick, discuss the long shadow of Thomas Harris, praise the always great Michael Connelly, and desperately try to find a happy ending for the podcast...

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Episode 12

Short Stories: In which we talk about some unexpected benefits of the Kindle, lament a miss from a usually reliable author, revisit some favorite reads, try to discuss how the ingredients for a great short story differs from those for a novel, pick out a few authors who seem to have really mastered the short story form, try to sell people on a hilarious movie about a very unfunny concept, discuss surreally bad video games, and offer people a chance to start learning about film in a very different way...

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Episode 11

E-mails, E-mails, E-mails: In which we fail miserably to describe Infinite Jest, uncover a few hidden book gems, take a look at horror beyond King, give a shout-out to the underrated and outstanding John Connolly, wonder who will be read as years go by, try to sell someone on Robert Jordan, express some love for Vonnegut, start coming up with a podcast drinking game, and talk up a bunch of movies...

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Episode 10

It's a Wonderful Life: In which our voices nearly give out from recording two podcasts in a row, I have an initial reaction to Infinite Jest, Dietrich goes back to George R. R. Martin, we wax rhapsodic about books by Hunter S. Thompson, Ayn Rand, John Irving, Orson Scott Card, and even Tolkien, talk up some holiday movies, and plunge into a couple of foreign films...

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Episode 9

All Hail the King: In which we receive an e-mail that proves almost impossible to read without giggling, envy the life of a suave thriller writer, lament the recent output of Tom Clancy, discuss the hallucinogenic works of Philip K. Dick, launch headfirst into the wide world of Stephen King, rave about the amazing new film Black Swan, and share some love for some great (and cheap) independent games...

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Episode 8

In Spite of Elves and Space Marines: In which we discuss a magazine that brings some literary cred to video games, analyze exactly why sci-fi and fantasy are so great and yet so shunned, talk up a few great movies, look at a game that's surprisingly moving, and even work in a music recommendation...

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Episode 7

Thankful for the Pootie Tang: In which we get some great e-mails, are compared to bodily functions, repeat some recent reads, get a little grateful for some wonderful literary blessings, revisit childhood favorites with mixed results, and discuss why Pootie Tang is really a pretty funny little cult movie...

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Episode 6

All About Dennis Lehane: In which I provide an unspeakable introduction, Dietrich and I defend ourselves from charges of Tolkien-hating, we revisit the great new book The Magicians, we dive into the collected works of Dennis Lehane, I bask in the glory that was the Roger Waters concert, and we get prepared for the Thanksgiving episode to come...

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Episode 5

The Written Word to the Silver Screen: In which Dietrich and I discuss readers both teen and e-, Dietrich taunts me with his week's reading, I tick off people with my theory about what matters in book adaptations, and we wrap up with a quick look at the new movie Skyline as seen by a redneck Statler and Waldorf...

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Episode 4

Graphic Novels: In which I gush about two great books I've read this week, we take on a massive array of graphic novels and their authors, and we get our geek on talking about The Walking Dead and Toy Story 3 (yes, back to back, and yes, it's a little jarring)...

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Episode 3

Books for People Who Don't Like to Read: In which Dietrich and I are insulted and praised by our first listener e-mail, vent frustration over bad depictions of the Internet, discuss Stephen King in general, and generally try to come up with books for people who just don't like to read...

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Episode 2

All About The Hunger Games: In which Dietrich and I discuss the mad genius of Brian Evenson, how the movie Adaptation came to horrid life as a book, and why The Hunger Games isn't just great young adult fiction, but great fiction, period.

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Episode 1

Calling the Bluff: In which Dietrich and I discuss how much we love the Repairman Jack series, complain about authors who constantly bluff about killing characters, and talk a bit about other stuff we enjoy, including the amazing FX show Terriers.

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e-mail me at
clydeumney@gmail.com

page updated:
September 1, 2014