Reviews and podcasts

First of all, I’ve had some reviews published elsewhere that I haven’t yet linked to here. I had two reviews appear at Full Stop: Samantha Harvey’s amazing novel Dear Thief and Virginie Despentes’s feminist take on crime fiction Apocalypse Baby. At Bookslut I reviewed Helen Garner’s This House of Grief, a rivetting account of a Australian murder trial. And, finally, I’m proud to make my first appearance in Open Letters Monthly with a review of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s dark, troubling novel Hausfrau. Check them out!

I’ve written about podcasts here before, but not since the success of the amazing podcast Serial. I was hooked on Serial, as were so many, many other people. Last night I had the chance to see the host and producer, Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, at an event in Hartford, Connecticut. It was really great. Koenig and Snyder told their story in a casual but polished way, keeping it light with their jokes — I was surprised at how much I laughed — but giving a good sense of how tremendously strange, difficult, and anxiety-inducing the whole experience was. They had no idea how popular the podcast would get and how strong people’s responses would be. They couldn’t have anticipated how other people would pick up the investigation they began and take it in different directions, often without their careful journalistic standards. They seemed distressed that personal information about the people involved in their story became public and their lives were changed. But they made a strong argument for the importance of what they were doing and are now hard at work on Seasons 2 and 3.

All that was great, but the evening will also be memorable for another event. As I watched people enter the auditorium and take their seats, I noticed a woman who looked vaguely familiar. It occurred to me that she might be Julia Pistell, one of the hosts of my favorite bookish podcasts, Literary Disco, and someone I know from listening to the podcast lives in the area. After I heard her very distinctive laugh, I was almost certain it was her. So afterwards I mustered up the courage to ask if she is indeed Julia. I always agonize about this sort of thing. I like meeting people but worry about saying the wrong thing or looking silly, or bothering someone who doesn’t want to be bothered. This situation was particularly odd, since Sarah Koenig had just talked about the experience of being recognized by her listeners and how it can make her feel uncomfortable. The whole thing was just a little too meta — I wanted to introduce myself to a podcaster at an event about podcasting in which the podcaster talked about people introducing themselves to her. Strange! But I did it, and Julia Pistell was lovely. In fact, she was super-excited and thought it was hilarious that I recognized her by her laugh. So thank God, I hadn’t made an ass of myself and instead have a fun podcasting experience tucked inside another podcasting experience to remember.

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8 responses to “Reviews and podcasts

  1. I so envy you!! I’m a big fan of podcasts and Serial too and would have loved to attend the event with Julie Snyder and Sarah Koenig. Upon your advice I got hooked to Lit up but haven’t yet tried Literary Disco… but I’ll catch up on it for sure.

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  2. I just subscribed to Literary Disco – looking infinitely more forward to my busride home today! I like to read on my way into work but after a day of screens I like to give my eyes a break…thanks!

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  3. Sounds like a great time! And good for you for getting up the courage to find out if it really was Julia Pistell. I am not sure I would have managed it and so would have gone home forever wondering and kicking myself for being too shy.

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    • That’s exactly what I wanted to avoid — going home and kicking myself for not having done it. Or perhaps, going home, writing Julia on twitter about it since I follow her there, and her saying “you should have introduced yourself!”

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  4. I read on Bellezza’s blog that you’re in the shadow jury of the upcoming Booker Prize read along. I look forward to your reviews and the final judgement in choosing the winner. Happy reading, all ye fast readers.🙂

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