Literary Disco show

Literary Disco

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

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 Episode 44: Robert Frost’s New Hampshire | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3833

For the first time ever, the Disco takes on a dead poet. And not just any one, but perhaps the most celebrated and popular of American poets, Robert Frost. Julia selected his fourth book, New Hampshire, which includes famous Frost poems such as “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Fire and Ice.” But also plenty of lesser known works. What follows includes some strong (but relatively peaceful) disagreements about Frost and his legacy. Up first, in a themed Bookshelf Revisit, your hosts each present a favorite place-based piece of writing. Which includes fiction, non-fiction, and something called a “deep map.” But don’t worry, Tod manages to work his time as a strip club DJ into the discussion. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 43: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3686

Football and the Iraq war come together in Ben Fountain’s novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a portrait of fictional war heroes during a “victory tour” in 2004. The disco trio discusses the books insights on war, class, and politics. Not to mention Fountain’s mastery of his craft. But first, it’s Bookshelf Roulette, which brings up important questions such as, why do all fantasy novels take place in England? Who in the world still has personalized license plates? And, what WAS the plot of Marilynne Robinsons’ novel Housekeeping? (Seriously, does anybody remember? Please email us.) Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 42: When Animals Attack | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3916

On this “animal rage” episode, the trio reads articles about animal attacks. From Slate, A Death in Yellowstone by Jessica Grose From Outside Magazine, The Killer in the Pool by Tim Zimmerman And from Esquire, The Worst Story I Ever Heard by Rich Schapiro Discussions of zoos, pets, national parks, and the nature of animals ensues…culminating in the very important question, what’s scarier: a chimp, a bear, or a killer whale? Up first in the revisit, Rider heads to Pilgrim Creek, Tod analyzes Jack London’s dog narrators, and Julia admits she was a horse obsessed pre-teen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 41: Dr. Sleep | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3537

In this Halloween spooktacular, we talk about Stephen King’s latest novel, Dr. Sleep. It’s a sequel to his genre-defining classic, The Shining. Does Dr. Sleep hold up to its predecessor? Or is it something different entirely? But first, we bring to the Bookshelf Revisit the books and stories that scared us the most, either as a child or an adult. And then Tod and Julie both tell some “real life” ghost stories. Which sends Rider into a tailspin of skepticism (i.e., condescension) and Tod into a defense of the paranormal (i.e., egging Rider on). It’s one of the most combative episodes yet, and this fight has nothing to do with literature. Tis the season! Happy Halloween everyone. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 40: Things Fall Apart | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3267

Chinua Achebe’s classic novel of a Nigerian colonial encounter gets the Disco treatment. An in-depth look at Things Fall Apart leads to discussion of Achebe’s legacy and African literature in general. But first, songs. Lots of songs, as Rider introduces his latest lyrical discovery, Tod talks rock-drug-memoirs, and Julia discusses a book titled, Born to Run…which, perhaps predictably, inspires some Springsteen singing. There’s no outro to this episode, since Rider is on the road to his wedding and without a microphone. But up in two weeks: just in time for Halloween, the Disco will take on Stephen King’s new novel, Dr. Sleep. Happy listening! Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 39: The Penis Play | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2971

This week the trio takes on a dirtily-titled play that’s…actually not that dirty. “Cock” by Mike Bartlett is a strange combination of minimalist writing, incredibly specific characters, and Big Important Issues. For the second play the disco has tackled, it’s a good example of one that might read better than it will perform. But we’ll only know if any of our listeners have seen it… The discussion dives headfirst into the nature of sexual identity, and eventually, Tod will ask pressing (ridiculous) questions about the craft of stage acting (i.e., How do actors stand in front of people so long? How do they not pee?). But first, in the Bookshelf Revisit: books on Giants and Santa Clause, rip-your-heart-out lyrics about cancer, and the fascinating history of Legos. What kind of Lego kid were you? Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 38: Summer Vacation Essays | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4319

This week, the Disco trio reflects on the end of summer with two classic essays Julia selected. First up, E.B. White’s short and moving trip back to his childhood vacation spot, Once More to the Lake (which can be found in its entirety, here). And then, David Foster Wallace gets a well deserved lengthy discussion regarding his hysterical, career-making article about the miserable week he spent on a cruise ship: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Which, perhaps inevitably, leads Julia, Rider and Tod to share their personal cruise ship horror stories. What is America’s obsession with vacation? Why is summer so meaningful in our lives? Why is Tod singing Toni Braxton? These questions and more… Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 37: Hot for Teacher, LIVE! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 5095

Our first live episode, recorded in front of an amazing audience on August 22nd at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles, California. We’re joined by guest author Ivy Pochoda, who just that day was wrapping up the book tour for her latest novel, Visitation Street. For the Disco trio to read, Ivy selected the novel Tampa by Alissa Nutting, the first book to make Tod’s jokes and innuendos seem tame by comparison. But first, we each do a Bookshelf Revisit, two of which harken back to the “origin stories” we told in our very first episode. Then Tod brings the Poet Voice to the masses. We let the audience vote on which of his dramatically intoned selections is actually a poem. It’s long, it’s unruly, and thanks to many technical issues, it doesn’t sound all that great…but it’s Literary Disco live! Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 36: The Woman Chaser | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4480

Guest author Jim Gavin joins us for the strange journey that is Charles Willeford’s novel, The Woman Chaser, a book that confounds as much as it entertains. LA noir, postmodern pulp, and somehow, existential ennui are all squeezed into one little, psychotic book. But first, a Bookshelf Revisit that includes two nature poets, one of whom you probably know, the other you probably don’t. And in a special bonus interview, Rider talks Finnegans Wake with Joyce scholar Michael Seidel. Given his years of studying and teaching Joyce, can he make the book more accessible for those of us engaged in Finnegans Wake-Up? And for those of you who would never want to read it (like um, Tod), you may still be surprised by the nature of Joyce’s project. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 35: A River Runs Through It | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3435

This week, we catch a big fish: the classic novella “A River Runs Through It,” and — movie bonus — we rant and rave about how it translated. Also discussed: a roulette brings us to Wuthering Heights, Dickensian England, and the literary magazine Barrelhouse. Click here to purchase from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 34: Thunderbird | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3663

This week, we return to contemporary poetry– but not before revisiting JK Rowling’s pen-name revelation, Middlesex, and the profound number of songs in the Hobbit. AND we announce the details of our live show, and throw down the Finnegan’s Wake-Up challenge! Click here to purchase Thunderbird from an independent bookseller Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 33: Graphic Novels | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3714

In this episode, the disco trio finally takes on graphic novels. Goliath by Tom Gauld and My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, both empathetic takes on infamous villains. But should they be empathetic? Opinions clash as these two very different books come under the microscope. Not surprisingly, the addition of visual art changes the entire reading experience and the discussion. But first, in the Bookshelf Revisit, Rider will say the name Guybrush Threepwood, Tod will narrate the inner voice of a fish, and Julia heads to Shawshank. Also, Baby Hitler makes an appearance. We’re not kidding. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 32: Seating Arrangements | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3322

This week, it’s wedding time. The gang reads Maggie Shipstead’s novel Seating Arrangements, which takes place over three days of nuptials on an exclusive, East Coast island. Everyone’s rich, everyone went to Harvard, everyone has “first-world problems,” but does it make for a good read? The answer is more complicated than Julia, Tod, and Rider expected… But first, on our Bookshelf Revisit, Tod talks author correspondence, and trying to give an inspiring speech to his students. Julia binges on Stephen King. And Rider tries to read from Finnegan’s Wake, which inspires the Disco trio to come up with a great idea for a blog. An idea that actually might kill them — or at least render the three of them serious substance abusers — but all in the name of literature. Should they do it? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 31: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3548

Today we go to the one genre where our tastes truly collide: the crime novel. Rider, Tod, & Julia discuss Edgar-Award-Winning Tom Franklin’s latest work of southern intrigue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 30: Flowers in the Attic | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3716

It’s time to take on the book that you all read, under your covers, late at night, freaking out about the nature of puberty, poisoned donuts, and inheritances. This is the book that we almost murder Rider for even suggesting it might be a classic of any sort. This is the book that is way too dramatic. This… is…. Flowers in the Attic. Also discussed: will books on writing stand the test of time? Would you rather be the Assassin, or Happy to be Alive? Is F. Scott Fitzgerald a hack? And what’s a spontaneous Friday night with Julia like? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


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