slavery is bad


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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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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


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.

The Crucible

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After a bit of a hiatus, Novel Ideas returns with a classic American play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. (Ben here: My apologies for our absence, but I’ve been studying for my oral exam for my master’s degree. Now that I’ve finished that off, we should be back on schedule, more or less. More on that in a moment.) This is a pretty well known work that gets performed frequently and is a regular presence in school curricula. In this episode we cover the parallels between this play and McCarthyism, a variety of unlikeable characters, and the psychology of a witch hunt. We also cover elements of feminism (of course!), old people who are also badasses, and why white people are, generally speaking, the worst.

The music bump today is “Witch Hunt” by Rush, which is actually yet another use of witch hunts as a metaphor. Look up the song lyrics if you don’t believe me.

32- The Crucible – Bitches Be Trippin’

A quick administrative note: We will be posting a special holiday bonus episode next week, though we’re not sure which day just yet. The following Tuesday, January 1, we’ll be taking off before resuming our usual weekly schedule of a new post (mostly) every Tuesday.