Literary Disco show

Literary Disco

Summary: Writers talk about reading. Hosted by Tod Goldberg, Julia Pistell, and Rider Strong.

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 Episode 59: Pancakes! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3313

Breece D’J Pancake died in 1979 at the age of 26, but not before writing some legendary short stories. In this episode, we read his collected work and discuss the rural landscape he explored. But first: it’s the return of Klassics Korner with Two K’s. Tod tries to fool Julia and Rider with some Leo Tolstoy by creating a fake paragraph from The Death of Ivan Ilych. Will it work? Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 58: Submergence | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4016

This week we take on a smart book. Maybe too smart. Rider first stumbled upon Submergence by JM Ledgard when it was given as an example of complex grown up literature within an article about the popularity of Young Adult work. The trio decided to give it a try, and are pretty unanimous in its brilliance. But does brilliance make a book meaningful? Or…fun? Specifically, the group discusses how the worldliness and scientific complexity of Submergence might not be enough to make up for its minimal plot. Up first, the triumphant return of Judging a Book by Its Cover. Will the trio be able to tell things about a book from the first paragraph? Will they maybe know exactly which book it is? Tune in to find out. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 57: Cathedral of Nervous Horses | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3813

It’s time for more poetry. And much to Tod’s chagrin, the words “Mother” and “Father” appear a lot in this collection. Undeniably, however, the poems of W.E. Butts collected in The Cathedral of Nervous Horses are thoughtful, touching, and all around damn good. The Disco trio discusses his work, and then more generally, the mysterious life of working-class poets — those who dedicate their days writing in a form that barely gets any recognition. But first up, a Bookshelf Roulette. Rider catches a Paris Trout, Tod gets hip-hoppy, and Julia stumbles on Didion once again. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 56: Shirley Jackson | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3634

Before there was the Hunger Games, there was the Lottery. And not the fun kind. This week, we take on a newly published Shirley Jackson story and mix in a revisit to her classic short story “The Lottery”– which, incredibly, Rider has never read. Read along with these short stories and enjoy our descent into our usual madness (now, with more stoning!). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 55: The Stranger | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3721

It’s back to school for the Disco, when writer and real life high school English teacher Heather Partington joins us. We asked Heather to treat us like a class: reading assignment, quiz, discussion. She selected Albert Camus’ classic novel, The Stranger. Then she gave us an online reading quiz. The results may surprise you. But more importantly, there’s lots of talk about the state of literature in high schools: what kids are reading, how they’re reading, how their parents are reacting… Heather’s on the front lines of the next generation of readers, and the Disco quickly learns that her students are very, very lucky to have her. And then we dive into The Stranger in all its sparse, detached — et très French — glory. If you thought this book was weird when you were in high school, guess what? Still weird. But kind of great. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 54: The Free | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3691

This week we discuss the novel “The Free” by Willy Vlautin. Plus, we do a good old-fashioned “what are you reading right now” revisit. A classic night at the Disco! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 53: Choose Your Own Adventure! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4169

You are on the web, trying find something to listen to. You see a link to the latest Literary Disco episode, a podcast you love. You click on it. Now you are on the Literary Disco site, and there’s a brand new episode about Choose Your Own Adventure books! If you remember Choose Your Own Adventure books, scroll down. If you are too young to know what the hell a CYOA is, good for you youngin, click here. You begin to listen to the episode, which is about a spy-themeed Choose Your Own Adventure. Specifically, #6: Your Code Name is Jonah. The episode starts with Tod, Julia, and Rider doing a Bookshelf Revisit about their favorite spy-related literature. And pretty soon, the three friends are discussing the convoluted plot, stale prose, and strangely dissatisfying sensation of wading through a book with 40 different endings. But nostalgia for the 80s, weirdly inserted whale activism (yes, really), and the camaraderie of the Disco trio all draw you in. It makes you laugh and think in equal measure. Congratulations, you are a Literary Disco listener. The End. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 52: Black Hole | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3053

Beautiful women with tails, peeling out of your own skin, bad acid trips, cat-faced kids…we must be discussing the graphic novel Black Hole by Charles Burns. This chilling book set in the Seattle area in the 1970s is the story of high schoolers who are sexually transmitting a mysterious “bug” that mutates their bodies. But despite all appearances, this isn’t sci-fi horror; instead, the book speaks more to the general longing and misery that is American adolescence. And so, for the Bookshelf Revisit, the Disco trio pulls down their favorite teen-themed work of literature. A play set on Lover’s Leap, a book about a “maniac” runner, Richard Ford’s classic Rock Springs, and of course, Bruce Springsteen. It’s all angst all the time. Your parents just don’t get you. But we do. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 51: Five Days at Memorial | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3127

For this episode, the Disco goes back in time to 2005 for a harrowing glimpse at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial. Incredibly well researched and nuanced, Fink’s book covers disaster, death, corporate irresponsibility, legal maneuvering, and personal anxiety in the face of emergency. But first: the return of Bookshelf Roulette! Tod lands on a book close to home, Julia examines the simple act of “looking,” and Rider finds laughter that is contagious and dangerous. Why is Tod talking about huffing model glue and the Anarchist’s Cookbook? Only one way to find out… Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 50: Q&A | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3446

After some scheduling and vomiting drama (we’ll explain), we offer up this special 50th episode of wall to wall listener questions. In two weeks, we’ll return with — finally — a discussion of 5 Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink. Enjoy! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 49: Olympic Fever! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3880

Place your hand over your heart and jump onto a podium because we’ve got Olympic fever over here. We take on the two most important sports in American history: bowling and football. This month, first we talk about our favorite sports in fiction and nonfiction. (Horses may or may not come up again.) Then we get on to the main event: discussing two fascinating pieces of sports journalism, “Why Don’t More Athletes Take a Stand” by Gary Smith, and “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” by Michael J. Mooney. We’re pretty sure we’re going to get the bronze for this one… we lost some points due to Rider’s lack of knowledge of most sports. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 48: Anything That Moves | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3701

Food, glorious food! This episode takes on Dana Goodyear’s examination of the wild and crazy world of foodies and the things they eat, cook, buy, and sell: Anything That Moves. Which begs valuable questions like, could you eat a tarantula? What about a horse? The episode opens with a food-themed bookshelf revisit, which (in typical Literary Disco fashion), manages to cram Nick Cage, corn dogs, the movie Quiz Show and the country of Ghana all into one discussion. It’s a food extravaganza. Don’t listen if you’re hungry… Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 47: Mistborn | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3784

Today we welcome the first appearance of the disco’s official Fantasy Correspondent, Will Friedle. As a voracious reader of the genre, the trio asked Will to pick one of his favorite fantasy novels, and he chose Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. Which, at 672 pages, turns out to be one of the shortest books Will could have selected from this author. The discussion lands only on the book briefly, though, as the gang delves into the nature of fantasy itself. What makes for good fantasy, and how is that different from other genres? Is suspense as important as “world building,” or less so? What about moral complexity? And, does anybody like singing Hobbits? Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 46: Best American Short Stories 2013 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4062

In this episode, Tod selects three short stories from the latest Best American collection. First up is Alice Munro’s “Trains,” a poignant and surprisingly epic story of a soldier post-WWII. Then Suzanne Rivecca’s story about a meeting between an employee of a shelter and a rich author, “Philanthropy.” And finally, cats gets killed in Callan Wink’s “Breatharians.” Opinions vary, but on the whole, the Disco trio is in agreement that these are some mighty fine stories. In the opening revisit, Tod brings up an essay and a boxing book, Julia talks urban renewal, and Rider talks dialect. FYI: after this episode, we expect you all to pronounce Julia’s name “Jul-ya” and to never, ever, do a “cleanse” of any sort. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 45: Best of 2013 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4592

In this delightful, coffee-fueled episode, we each choose a book for the hall of fame and name our favorite books we read this year. Plus, Klassics Korner makes a thrilling return with the addition of a certain boy wizard, Tod’s poet voice does not include James Franco this time, and Rider tells us his nerdiest moment of the year. Happy New Year from the Disco! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


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