I love radio. and radio podcasts. so naturally, free downloadable podcasts and free online streaming of awesome radio shows are two of the best things ever.
seriously, if you’re not on this train, then it’s time to get hip to the boogie. (I like a good mixed-metaphor now and then). many great shows make a weekly free podcast download available, enabling one to listen at her leisure, such as while riding the subway.
I’ve long been a fan off the universally-loved-and-adored this american life. I have a gigantic crush on ira glass. (I mean, who doesn’t? my best pal F saw him in an airport once and I nearly died of jealousy, insisting that she tell me the story at least three times.)
the show is brilliant and just one of those things with a totally well-deserved sterling reputation. there isn’t much bad to say about it. (although it was hilariously referenced in an early 2000’s teen tv show as “that show where the know-it-all-hipsters talk about how fascinating ordinary people are”–this primtime incident was subsequently mentioned on TAL by mr. glass himself). TAL’s short-lived tv show was lovely, too.
I also enjoy the new yorker’s fiction podcast, where each month, a writer chooses a story from the new yorker archives to read and discuss. I actually find a lot of the discussion (just a few minutes between the reader and the magazine’s fiction editor) to be boring, banal, and pedestrian. (wow that sounds like something a stuck-up jerk would say–but trust me, I’m not one). the questions posed by the editor quite often seem so arbitrary, lame, and beneath the quality of the work being discussed.
but I love the podcast anyway, as it does amazing things like allowing me to hear mary gaitskill (be still, my fiction-loving heart!) read nabokov.
By the way, I had the good fortune to see my homegirl m gaitskill in the flesh last month at the brooklyn book festival—reading from her most recent book on a panel about “primal impulse in fiction” (swoon!)—and was blown away yet again by just how fabulous she is. (at this point I will also mention that we share the same birthday).
I also recently listened to a reading of that stalwartly seminal work of american short fiction that’s de-rigueur in high school english classes, shirley jackson’s “the lottery.” I hadn’t read it since high school, and was so thrilled to find it even creepier and masterful than I remembered. absolutely chilling.
this week’s podcast is also nice, a reading of raymond carver’s “chef’s house”, which is totally classic carver. although, it’s markedly similar in plot to a posthumously-published (I believe) story of his, “call if you need me” (from the book “call if you need me: the uncollected fiction and other prose”, which I received for my 20th birthday). in many ways, I think, “call if you need need me” is a much better (but perhaps “less carver-ish”) piece. in fact, hearing “chef’s house”, lovely piece though it is, just made me want to read “call if you need me” for the 1,000th time. I’m not sure of what the editorial process for “call…” was like, but I would suspect that mr. lish, carver’s editor (and subject of that famous debate/discussion), did not have a chance to take a crack at it… interestingly enough, according to the commentary of the “chef’s house” podcast-reading, mr. lish also didn’t have a chance to edit “chef’s…” hmm… what a fascinating topic: the nature of editing, how far is too far, and where the line between revealing and sculpting/manipulating a writer’s voice is. so whatever one’s opinion of lish and carver’s relationship may be, we can at least thank them for making us think about it in a way we might not have collectively done otherwise.
look at me, I start talkin’ radio an end up on fiction. that happens with me I suppose; it’s a conversational hazard–I’ll nerd out and start beginning sentences with “so back to the cultural and gendered biases of the term ‘magical realism’…” and saying asinine things like “so you’ve read ‘court in the west eighties’ by carson mccullers, right?”
in fact, I wanted to write this post to give props to another radio show, aside from TAL and the NYFP, one with which I have only recently become totally obsessed (I’m a scorpio like that)–the genius that is radiolab. two parts hardcore science-stuff and one part funny, insightful chatter. it’s just the right type and presentation of science-y stories to a scientifically-curious-but-not-so-much-inclined chap as myself: stories about the science of the afterlife! of monkey language! whale rescues! malcom gladwell lectures! stories about nuns! jane goodall! (who is back on my hero list in bold-faced type, p.s.) head on over to their website and stream episodes while you work; you will be pleased.