Literary Disco show

Literary Disco

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

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 Episode 29: The Fault in Our Stars | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 4065

What is the difference between drama and melodrama? Should books be written differently with teenage readers in mind? What is Romeo and Juliet actually about? And, if Rider rants in a forest, does anyone care? This week we engage in one of the most heated debates in Disco history, centered around John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in particular, and Young Adult literature in general. But first, we play Bookshelf Roulette. Tod will introduce you to memoirist Dinah Lenney, Rider stumbles upon his own signature, and Julia reads from one of her favorite literary journals. Lots of big questions and no easy solutions in this episode, so we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 28: Two Essays about Iowa | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3105

Today is all about duality. Is a tragic event better written about as a personal essay, or as straight reportage? Should visitors to LA check out the Book Festival or the Grilled Cheese Festival? Tough decisions abound. At the heart of the episode is our comparative study on two essays: Jo Ann Beard’s “The Fourth State of Matter,” and Jim Mann’s “The Physics of Revenge.” Each one unpacks the same cultural event using wildly different techniques. Which form of nonfiction will prevail? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 27: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3231

In this episode, Tod, Rider, and Julia take on Ron Currie Jr.’s new novel, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. One of the podcast’s most intense discussion ensues, primarily regarding the book’s masculinity. What makes a book manly, anyway? And why is Rider quoting Legends of the Fall? The words “trope” and “deconstruction” figure prominently. But first up, in this week’s Bookshelf Roulette, Julia lands on a Lonely Planet, Tod talks about boogers (amazingly, this is totally on-topic) and Rider complains about drunk LA writers. Rider complains about drunk dude writers a lot in this episode. Enjoy, and let us know what YOU think! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 26: The Birthday Episode | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3484

Happy birthday to us! For our birthday, we happen to all touch on stories about us sobbing uncontrollably. What says “birthday” like dredging up childhood memories of being the fat kid? If that’s not enticing enough for you, we create a Bookshelf of Fame and each add a book to it. Then we introduce a new game called “Wordz to Your Mother,” and go back to all of our old favorites. There’s no pin the tale on the donkey, but there are victory, screaming, and nostalgia! Happy birthday, listeners! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 25: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3406

This week on Literary Disco, full of sound and fury, we debate the meaning of the mysterious tetractus. Bookshelf roulette also leads us to a castle we can capture– but eventually, we get to discuss Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Plus a super-special bonus discussion of the oddities and delights of the annual AWP conference. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 24: When My Brother Was an Aztec & Smith Blue (The Poetry Episode) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3241

Tonight we take on a huge subject: how we should read poetry. The discussion centers on Natalie Diaz’s collection “When My Brother Was an Aztec” and Camille Dungy’s “Smith Blue.” What do we make of these wonders? What do we think about eviscerated dogs, smashed fruit, and meth? And what do teenagers have to do with it all? Plus, we revisit the bookshelf revisit and talk Lincoln, oral histories, and the literary reviewer’s conundrum. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 23: Pulphead | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3482

What do Michael Jackson, Christian Rock, and nearly-electrocuted high schoolers have in common? They’ve been written about by John Jeremiah Sullivan, and argued about by Tod, Rider, and Julia in today’s latest episode. Join us as we rhapsodize over some excellent essays. Also join us as we pull random books off our shelves (thanks to your help) and chat about them at random. Discussed: Julia tells you about Mark Twain’s OTHER pen names, Tod makes a very mysterious phone call, and Rider adores a classic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 22: The Hardy Boys | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2959

On today’s episode, we head to Bayport to take on the brothers Hardy, those teen sleuths you thought you knew… We discuss Books One and Two of The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure, and The House on the Cliff. This episode offers an interesting counterpoint to our look at the first Sweet Valley High Book from Episode 3. But first, we abandon our usual Bookshelf Revisit in favor of Bookshelf Roulette. Based on random number suggestions from our Twitter followers, we each find a book on our shelf to discuss. What strange volume will we land on? And perhaps more importantly, will Tod can stay on topic? (Hint: barely.) Find out what adventures await us as we confront hobos, starvation, bad book signings, reckless jalopies, cookie-obsessed chums and the true villainy of red-heads. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 21: We The Animals (with guest Elizabeth Crane) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3530

We’ve tackled tigers and rubber ducks on the show before, but have we ever turned our eyes to the animal spirits of three young brothers? Justin Torees’ novel is brought to our attention by the witty and wonderful Elizabeth Crane, who joins us on the show for a quick disco dance. Plus: cosmically bad reviews, having the willpower to creatively open a cupcake, and what the hell Patty Hearst was fighting for. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 20: The Best of 2012 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3225

Well, OUR best of 2012. Join us as Tod, Julia, and Rider go through the Top 5 books they read this year. Which of the books from previous episodes did they select? Did Pillars of the Earth make the grade? How about Sweet Valley High? Classics, new favorites, graphic novels, children’s books, and even audiobooks all make an appearance in this in-depth New Year’s discussion. And then Tod decides it’s time for a lightning round “Best Of” in all sorts of other categories, including, but not limited to, Best Cheese of 2012. And yes, dear listeners, Julia sings again. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 19: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2598

Ho ho ho! For the holiday season, the Literary Disco team reads a book Julia got for Christmas several years ago but hadn’t yet read. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” brings us back to discussion nonfiction and the importance of setting. Also discussed: Goodreads, a bookshelf revisit, and the special Twitter challenge! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 18: The Paris Review’s “Object Lessons” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3068

The short story: what is it for? Who does it best? What’s a “Paris Review” short story, vs. just a regular short story? Listen to us duke it out and draw your own conclusions– or, better yet, get the book and read along. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Bonus Episode! Life of Pi: The Movie | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1071

You knew we’d have an opinion. Tod, Rider, and Julia discuss whether or not the film adaptation of “Life of Pi” lives up to the book– and whether or not you should see it. And it might not be the same answer. THERE ARE A HUNDRED THOUSAND SPOILERS IN HERE. Consider yourself warned. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 17: Life of Pi by Yann Martel | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3102

You, a lifeboat, a tiger. Would you make it? Would Tod? Would Julia? Would Rider? (We have our bets.) Join our hosts as they discuss this bestselling novel and their hopes for the upcoming movie. Watch out for spoilers (though we’ll warn you). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

 Episode 16: Pillars of the Earth | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3147

Long ago, in a land far away, three friends decided to take on an inconceivable project. One would read a book. One would listen to the audiobook of that book. One would watch a miniseries of the audiobook of that book. And lo, how did they feel about this book– which happens to be very popular– and this audiobook, and this miniseries? Did they build a great cathedral of praise, or raise a church of complaint? (Please note: The Pillars of the Earth contains many violent descriptions of sexual assault, which we discuss.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


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