Novel Ideas returns at a strange interval with The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Our apologies for our odd posting schedule as of late, Ben’s day job leads to a rather turbulent schedule between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so editing and posting episodes tends to get pushed back. We’re hoping to at least be able to post on Mondays through the start of the new year. I guess we’ll see. At any rate, check out this week’s episode where we discuss marriage, feminism, the rejection of societal norms, and the adult readability of classics. We also talk about space penises, Victorian titillation, the romantic death trope, and why children are boring.
The music bump this week is Frederic Chopin’s Nocture opus 15, number 3 in G Minor, also subtitled “Solitude” for its possibly awakening Edna’s…. awakening, I guess.
As promised, Novel Ideas returns with episode number two for this week: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. This is a book that is not easily summarized, as its narrative follows eight different women through various episodes in their life, not particularly linked by any continuous plot threads. Listen to the episode to hear us talk about genre vagueness, embarrassing parents, marriage, and character authenticity. We also discuss losing your mojo, baby hatin’, murder by anorexia, and what really defines your “second best bed.” And of course, feminism, though through a very positive lens this time.
The music bump is “Mah-Jong” by Chicago (yes, that Chicago).
Novel Ideas returns from a work related pseudo vacation hiatus with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. If you use any form of media that is connected to the outside world, you’ve probably seen some trailers for the recently released movie. This book has actually been our list for a long time, but we’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to discuss it. Join us this week as we discuss, with the help of Special Guest Star Kevin Smith, this old favorite. In the the episode we talk about the Orson Scott Card controversy, spoilerific plot twists, master manipulators, and whether the ends justify the means. We also touch on how six year olds act most of the time, Yakety Sax, Independence Day, and creative ways of using the word “fart.”
The music bump is “Head Games” by Foreigner. I almost went with “Yakety Sax,” but decided that “Head Games” is actually hilarious if you imagine that Ender is singing it to either Colonel Graff or the Hive Queen, depending on the verse.
Welcome to a spooooooky Novel Ideas Halloween episode, featuring “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. This book short story is about an awkward, lovestruck schoolteacher who is terrorized by a headless horseman. Actually, it would be more accurately described as a a very silly person falling for a very silly prank. Probably. Irving doesn’t really commit himself to it one or the other. Listen to the episode to hear us discuss whether this is actually a horror story, adaptations of the story, general silliness, and why this story became a classic.
Also, there’s a little bit of schedule housecleaning to square away this week. Ben is going to be out of town next week, so there won’t be an episode the week of November 4. However, we’re going to air two episodes the following week, aiming for a Monday and Thursday drop date for those two episodes.
The music bump is Psalm 105 “Unto the Lord Lift Thankful Voices.” The Puritan version would be something like this, only more boring. This applies to the Puritan version of most things.
5/10 Not long enough to warn you against it, but not good enough to recommend reading it.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Just your friendly annual reminder that November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel during the month of November, so it’s an exercise in masochism as much as anything. Actually, the goal is to write 50,000 words during the month, which is closer to a novella, most commercial novels being in the 90,000 word range. That being said, averaging approximately 1,700 words per day for an entire month isn’t easy. Novel Ideas will be attempting to defeat NaNo (as it is frequently abbreviated) this year, for the first time in Ben’s case, and AGAIN in Gabs’s case because she is crazed. Feel like trying with us? Let us know!
Novel Ideas makes a late appearance this week with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is a YA? story about World War II Germany as told through the eyes of Death. More or less. Read the book to learn more. Listen to our episode to hear us discuss Death as an interesting character choice, the power of words, Nazis, and the horrors of war. We also talk about our research standards (low), our knowledge of German (also low), amalgams, and the lack of actual book thievery in this story. Also, weirdly, there is a fairly significant discussion of H.H. Holmes, who has nothing whatsoever to do with this book. Try to overlook the ambient noise in our studio, primarily generated by a squeaky office chair.
The music bump is “Roses of the South,” a waltz by Johan Strauss, performed on the accordion. Why you ask? Because READING.
Novel Ideas returns after a week off with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is the first book we’ve read for the podcast written by a Native American and it definitely grants some insights into the culture and conditions on an Indian reservation. This selection also continues banned book month, though it’s hard to find real reasons to challenge this particular book. In our discussion, we talk about alcoholism, race, illustrations complementing the text, and the significance of community. We also cover whether “Junior” is a weird name, trains, bro relationships, and boners. Lots of boners.
This week’s header was taken from a larger piece of fan art by Kristina Wayte. You can check out the original here.
The music bump is “Spokane” by Ho Lan, which is not traditional Spokane Indian music, but is a newly composed piece with traditional elements in it.
The great Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with… Oh, it’s over? Right. In that case, Novel Ideas is back with a non-Potter podcast for the first time in several weeks with Inferno by Dan Brown, a thriller that involves Dante and lots of obscure art knowledge. This episode also launches a new theme month, Bestseller Month, where we examine books that have sold well and recently. We would like to offer a legitimate spoiler alert for this episode, as the book has several plot twists, and even we would be less interested in the story if we had known those twists in advance. If you’ve already read it, or aren’t planning on reading it soon, tune in (Like on a dial? Maybe I don’t understand the internet yet…) to hear us discuss the aforementioned plot twists, infodumps, overpopulation, and feminism. We also talk about unlikely character pairings, victorious villains, the existence of gay people, and the consequences of monologuing. In a very special turn, we also get to experience a couple of minutes of Gabs rage. Hooray!
The music bump is from Franz Liszt’s “Dante Symphony,” which is being performed during much of the climactic scene of this book.
Gabs: 5/10 If you like thrillers, read it. If you like the stuff we like, skip it.
Ben: 4/10 Pretty dull for a thriller.
Check out Epic One, a collaborative fiction project involving Gabs Roman, half of Novel Ideas. The link will take you to the first chapter of an ongoing online e-book.
Novel Ideas Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. (Turns out all of them are by J.K. Rowling, go figure.) In this episode, we discuss the longest (thus far) book in the series, covering some topics we’ve already visited, such as wizard racism, and some topics that you would assume we’ve covered, such as feminism. Not to mention editing errors, elaborate villain schemes, the importance of world building, and whether 700 pages is too long. And that’s before we get into Draco’s secret pain, shaving mishaps, face punching, and whether Voldemort would be even creepier with a weird mustache. We hope you enjoy!
The music bump is Mike Relm’s “Harry Potter Remix of Death,” one of many Harry Potter remixes floating around the internet.
This week on Novel Ideas, we discuss Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, a sci-fi steampunk alternate history zombie story about the importance of family. In this episode we discuss characterization, possible racism, the motives of villains, and what about this book could use editing. We also the discuss the possibility of Disney accidentally creating zombies, moms who are also sharpshooters, steampunk naming conventions, and all the ways this book is like Peter Pan. There’s also an announcement at the end about our exciting July project extravaganza (more or that in the next day or two here if you’re avoiding the episode for spoilers).
A quick note: During the episode we wonder what the publication date was for this book, it was in 2009 and nominated for a Hugo award in 2010.
The music bump this week is “The Wall” by Kansas, though I’m pretty sure their version of the wall was not a literal wall containing poison gas and zombies.
Prepare for a long, cold slog through a world devoid of life, filled only with ashes. In other words, get ready for a new episode of Novel Ideas. This week, we read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize winning post-apocalyptic novel about… love? Join us as we discuss post-apocalyptic morality, cannibalism, isolation, and finding a purpose for living. We also talk about the potential benefits of joining a bloodcult, doomsday devices, and fonts (both apocalyptic and otherwise).
The music bump is “Lips of Ashes” by Porcupine Tree. I didn’t mean to go back to that well so quickly, but the song title was just too close to home. Also, Jackson Browne’s “The Road” didn’t quite fit the tone of novel. Additionally, there’s a little bit of Patton Oswalt at the end of the podcast. If you get that far, you’ll know why.
Ratings and Recommendations:
Ben: 7/10 miles trudged, only for what purpose?
Gabs: 5/10 on enjoyment.
Consensus is that this is a work of literature rather than entertainment. It is well written, but you may not find it very fun reading.