death

The Things They Carried

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Hello, fans, listeners, and non-listening readers of this post. This episode of Novel Ideas is about Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a sort-of-memoir/sort-of-fictional anthology set in and around the Vietnam War. In this episode we discuss classroom books, ambiguity, character archetypes, and unreliable narrators. We also talk about what we carry, lengthy gaps between recording (though maybe not posting? Okay, okay, not ONLY posting) podcasts, all-American girl/sweetheart assassins, and the purpose of second grade girlfriends in a war story.

The music bump is “Memory” by Yoko Kanno because maybe it was like, all dream, MAN.

114 – The Things They Carried – Ambiguous Reality

Our recommendation:

Not a straightforward war story, so you don’t have to like those to read this book. Another one of those obvious in hindsight why it is studied in school books.

Ben: 7/10. It feels like an example of a certain flavor of war story, usually involving Vietnam, that was probably more original/unique once upon a time. That being said, something about this book affected me a bit, something about the idea of being a young person and having to go to war when you have no interest in doing so.

Gabs: First half 5/10, second half 7/10. Why was there a little girl with cancer in this book?

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Wuthering Heights

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Welcome to a very special episode of Novel Ideas. This week we join the Minerva podcast network. If you found us through Minerva Magazine, we’re pleased to have you! A quick word of warning: this podcast contains some adult language, so if that concerns you, consider this fair warning. Our spoiler policy generally doesn’t matter as much for classics, but you should also be aware that we spoil anything and everything because we want to be able to discuss everything in the book in detail.

For this episode we read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, a classic love story that might not be either of those things. We discuss those points as well as 19th century literary devices, the dangers of passion, Victorian values, and (of course) feminism. We also examine why it isn’t okay to hang puppies, weird hate auras, modern adaptations, and the questionable biology surrounding Victorian pregnancy.

The music bump is “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush, which is apparently sung from the point of view of Cathy’s ghost.

95 – Wuthering Heights – Hanging Puppy Love

Our ratings: All of the characters are terrible people, but at least it isn’t very fun to watch them interact.

Ben: 3/10. I didn’t enjoy reading it even a little bit. One extra point subtracted for having multiple instances of puppy hanging.

Gabs: 3.5/10. An extra half point awarded for demonstrating the healing power of reading.

Mockingjay

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Novel Ideas is back! At least for this week. The plan had been to get this episode up around the time the movie was released, so expect a lot of hedging on estimates of when new episodes will be released. Adding context makes comments about having more content up by the end of the year more understandable, more amusing, and a bit more shameful. At any rate, here is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you listen, you will hear discussions about PTSD, the morality of war, weaknesses of characterization, and-dare I say it?-feminism. Not to mention messing with the shippers, different varieties of tridents, the curative power of babies in fiction, and why Gale is the worst.

If the audio quality seems off, we recorded and mixed this on a new rig. So Gabs is present via the power of the internet rather than the power of sitting at a table and may sound like she is present via the power of two tin cans linked by a string. Our apologies. Expect more of it. Eventually.

The music bump is “Back on the Streets Again” by the always timely Tower of Power.

93 – Mockingjay – The Bad Guys Would Eat Its Meat

Our ratings:

Ben: 8/10. A more mature story than the first two with less action, but more interesting discussion points.

Gabs: 7.5/10 Peetas. (And zero Gales because he is terrible.) The book has some issues, but damn it, it’s trying.