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.
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?
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.
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.
Novel Ideas returns with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Not to mention the second movie, which you may have heard, was released recently. We apologize for missing last week, illness and a new work schedule have been conspiring against us. In this episode, we discuss masculine and feminine character traits, PTSD, overly silent conspiracies, and inaction in the face of evil. We also talk about classic dick moves, Peeta as a potential creeper, whether President Snow is a vampire, and many, many prequel possibilities.
Ben’s holiday work schedule is fairly likely to result in more delays with editing and posting episodes, so the schedule may look a little jagged through the end of the year. Posts are most likely to occur on Mondays rather than Tuesdays for the duration. We’ll try not to miss any more weeks without putting it on the schedule in advance, but bear with us.
The music bump this week is “Fire in the Hole” by Steely Dan.
A very good read, as long as it isn’t the first book you ever read, with markedly more sophistication than the first book.
Gabs: 8.5/10 with the extra half point awarded for going beyond typical YA fare.
Ben: 9/10 I think I may have liked this one better than the first one, mainly due to the added political elements.
Novel Ideas returns with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a book about a traumatized high school freshman. A quick warning: if rape is a sensitive subject for you, this would be a good week not to tune in, as it is a key point in this book. We’ll also be discussing tense as a storytelling device, post-trauma emotional states, conformity, and the importance of speaking up. Additionally, we’ll also be talking about ubernerds, Ben’s idiocy, Ben’s sexy cold induced phlegm voice, and a special anti-recommendation from Gabs. There will be one or two weird moments in this episode as Ben’s disgusting wet coughs have been deleted, but not his laughter infused voice after Gabs’s disgusted reaction. So we’ll blame contextless laughter on cough deletion this week.
The music bump is “This Long Silence” by Porcupine Tree, which may or may not have anything to do with the book other than the title.
Following a suggestion from Kevin, we are also rating this book on a 1-10 scale to help out those of you who are trying to decide if they want to read the book to avoid spoilers before they listen to the episode.
Gabs: 7 out of 10 possible seconds of silence
This book is good, not great. But it’s worth reading for a good treatment of sensitive topic.
Page count is just under 200.