Bookie Fever

After discovering Paul F. Tomkins’ podcast Dead Authors through his connection to The Thrilling Adventure Hour, I pitched a blog post to Quirk Books about podcasts with a literary slant. After I pitched it, I realized that I didn’t actually listen to podcasts other than TAH and the occasional Nerdist, and to do the thing right, I needed to sample a selection.

The piece will be posted in a couple of weeks, and I look forward to continuing to explore new podcasts and sharing my finds. One of my favorite discoveries so far is Literary Disco which features Tod Goldberg, Julia Pistell, and Rider Strong. 2 of the 3 I was already familiar with. I freely admit to having had an enormous crush on Rider Strong during his days on Boy Meets World – show me a preteen girl in the nineties who didn’t and I’ll show you a liar or a lesbian.

And while I can easily separate the actor from the role, I was a little afraid of having my fond memories of Shawn Hunter tainted by too much reality. What if I didn’t like Strong’s opinions? What if he came off as pretentious, or rude, or hated all the things I love? (He’s not a Harry Potter fan, which is definitely a deal breaker. Devastating.)  The other aspect that worried me about Literary Disco is that I’ve met Tod Goldberg a couple of times. He teaches at UC Riverside and has so much personality it couldn’t possibly be contained by a single podcast. And he uses the word ‘fucktard’ a lot. Could I handle a whole 45 minutes of that?

Fortunately, my fears about the podcast were totally groundless. All three hosts are charming, intelligent, and easy-going. They keep the show moving by dividing it into segments, and no one attempts to hog the spotlight because what we’re really listening to is a chat amongst friends. It’s practically eavesdropping, with an air of All Things Considered. What I am really loving about the show is their ability to be goofy and also engage in meaningful discussion. I was sold the moment they turned a ‘dramatic’ reading from Sweet Valley High into an actual conversation about image and reputation. (Episode 3 – it’s a good one to start with.)

They discuss one particular book or short story each episode, but aside from the camaraderie, the unique aspects of this show are the segments like Klassic Korner (with two Ks), where one person picks two passages from a classic and then makes up a third, trying to stump the other two. Or when Tod Goldberg reads found text in his ‘poet voice.’ For me, the book club sections, while smart and informative, give me flashbacks to Intro to Lit, when I’d rather feel like I’ve been transported to the couch in one of their living rooms, listening in, living life and loving books.

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