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Homegoing

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After a long hiatus, Novel Ideas has returned with an episode about Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Ignore anything we say about timing in this episode as we recorded it back in March. I’d apologize, but by now you’ve been burned so many times by our erratic schedule that you would probably assume that I don’t mean it. In this episode we talk about strong characterization, elements of storytelling, the impact of the past, and history. We also discuss our lack of qualification to discuss this book, rehash the badness of slavery (we’ll stop when you guys finally get it), grudgingly reference Light in August (about which no more needs to be said), and get really uncomfortable trying to discuss racial issues despite being a pair of white idiots.

The music bump is “The Long Way Home” by Joshua Redman.

Homegoing – A Book Without Happy Endings

Our recommendations: It’s probably been too long since we read this to assign a realistic numerical rating, but it’s the kind of book that you read and think that everyone should read it regardless of their level of enjoyment. So I guess 10/10 for relevance and 0/10 if you hate it on principle because we’re telling you that you have to read it.

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Angels in America

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Our drama push continues this week on Novel Ideas with Angels in America by Tony Kushner, a very long two part play about… AIDS, maybe? This is a massive work, resulting in a longer than average episode where we mostly thrash about and try to figure out what various fantastical occurrences actually mean. In this episode, we discuss change, reluctant prophets, conservatism, and homosexuality. We also talk about why Tony Kushner won’t be appearing on the podcast, stupid alternate titles, chewing down a tree, and try to figure out what’s up with Joe. In the angelic realm alone, we examine the sexual habits of angels (always banging), the genitalia of angels (many and varied), and how angels maintain creation (mostly via jizz, as it turns out).

The music bump is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” not merely as yet another one of Ben’s terrible attempts at humor, but also because it actually appears in the play, though perhaps not in a traditional context.

Angels in America – Angels Be Crazy

Recommendations:

A very lengthy play (actually two plays) that is rather confusing to read at times because it’s supposed to be staged. Still has some power and effect though.

Gabs: 7/8 angelic vaginas.

Ben: 8/10 bouquets of phalli.

Beloved

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Novel Ideas wraps up Banned Book Month with Beloved by Toni Morrison, a story of escaping the past against the background of slavery. This book is a rather difficult read, as it written non-traditionally, shifting points of view and tenses and using some modern literary techniques that don’t get used often in popular fiction. In this episode we talk about some of those challenges, as well as gender and publishing, slavery, the context of infanticide, and the difficulty of escaping the past. We also discuss “enlightened” slave owners, weird sex, whitepeople, and our need of a professor to help us decipher the text. This book was a rich topic for discussion, we hope you find this episode interesting.

The music bump is “Freedom” by Charles Mingus.

Beloved – Not A Dead White Guy

Recommendations:

Gabs: 6/10 as an enjoyable book, 8/10 as something you should read.

Ben: I might not go as high as 6/10 for enjoyability, but it was a pretty powerful book. I’m also going to say 8/10 as something you should read.