Novel Ideas returns with Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, the winner of the Nebula award in the novella category this year. In this episode, we discuss empathy, outsider perspectives, colonialism, and forgiveness. We also talk about the lack of snark, kindergarten level thinking, adult hair touching, and not being a hater.
The music bump is “All is Forgiven” by the Jellyfish, which is thematically appropriate in at least two ways.
Our review: Good to very good, a very simply told story. Gabs would like for the story to be more fleshed out, but nothing that is necessary is omitted. No ratings this time because I forgot to get one from Gabs before she disappeared into the wilderness for the month.
Since this is a recent publication, be mindful of our spoiler policy. Short version: we spoil everything.
This week, on a very special Novel Ideas, Gabs has an important message for Ben. Is it time for Ben to finally kick his coke habit? No, it’s time to tell him everything she knows about the publishing industry. Well, as much as she can condense two years of school into two hours of podcast. This episode will air in two parts; the first part is (mostly) about books, the process of making a book, how new media effects the making and selling of books, and a mini-lesson on jargon.
The music bump is “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss. It was chosen for no particular reason other Ben couldn’t remember using it previously and felt like it was time because there’s no way Gabs is going to be talked into reading 2001 any time soon.
Welcome to the March edition of Novel Ideas, featuring The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In this episode we talk about the genre of the children’s novel, colonialism, subversions, and–need I say it?–feminism. We also discuss why Colin is kind of a dick, plot related illnesses, failed attempts at comic relief, and children’s dialogue. Gabs even did some research about the background of this novel. I know, try not to lose faith in us. We hope by the time you get to the end of this one, you’ve learned the secret behind the magic.
The music bump is Don Byron’s version of “The Royal Garden Blues.”
An easy classic and an early entry in the non-religious children’s book canon, it’s probably worth your time.
Ben: 7/10. Isn’t bad, definitely won’t change your life. Another classic that is easy to discuss.
Gabs: 8/10. Minus 2 points for Colin.
The Novel Ideas roulette wheel landed on a classic this month, so we’re back with The Color Purple by Alice Walker. In this episode we discuss racism, injustice, abuse, and other upsetting things. We also talk about the cold open, black comedy, down home cookin’, and laughably ineffective missionaries.
The music bump is Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington’s band performing “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” based on our unresearched speculation regarding how this book became a musical.
Ben: Purple/10. Which is the best rating, I think. I don’t really understand that part of the rating system. But I would definitely recommend this one.
Gabs: 9/10 for literary value. Also worth reading for the purpose of making yourself less shitty.
Novel Ideas ends the year with our 100th episode, a pseudo-special that we’ve talked about doing since the early days. We recorded ourselves discussing Twilight by Stephanie Meyer in the form of a drinking game. There were official rules, but the real rule was to invent rules as the discussion developed. It’s pretty fun and we’re not that much less coherent than usual. In this episode we talk about: literary tourism, free will, stalker-ish behavior, and hear a pretty surprising take on Bella v. Katniss as strong characters. We also get into Edward’s middle name, whether the northwest US has thunderstorms, the amazing untold stories happening in the background, and (of course) #feminism. And in this longer than average episode, we also discuss aspects of vampires: lore, stalking, hipster tendencies, racism, and baseball. Expect a few broken brains and misunderstandings of how biology works.
The music bump is “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, because Stephanie Meyer loves her some Muse.
We’re going to omit our ratings for this episode as we read this before Gabs left for grad school, but didn’t record it for a year. And now it’s been several months since the recording, so our rating wouldn’t be that fair. Also, everybody already knows what Twilight is and aren’t likely to decide to read it or not based on our silly rating. However, here is the link to “Growing Up Cullen” that Ben read as a refresher instead of reading the book a second time.
Novel Ideas is back for another month of sibling book-related antics. This time with The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. We chose this book as part of our ongoing campaign to read more fiction about and/or by non-white, non-male authors. In this episode we discuss women in science fiction, elements of good world building, travel narratives, and feminism. We also talk about partially digested (probably not) snakes, how not to share your Golden Meaning, give advice on whether to murder (hint: no), and strange personal belief systems.
The music bump is “The Road” by Tenacious D.
A different spin on the travel narrative with an ending full of “wat.”
Ben: 7/10. Not knowing what was going on for at least half of the story did not prevent me from enjoying it.
Gabs: 7/10. Points for the concept, but deductions for the confusion.