unreliable narrator

The Turn of the Screw

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Time for a spoooooky Halloween double feature from Novel Ideas! This week we discussed The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, a classic ghost novel from the turn of the (20th) century. In this episode, we talk about 19th century framing devices, horror tropes, class, and classic versus modern audience expectations. We also cover literary conspiracy theories, strange employment conditions, modern misinterpretations of Victorian prose, and why Miles is kind of a dick.

The music bump is “Conspiracy Theory” by Mike Tomaro, as performed by the Capitol Bones.

Join us next time for The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

115 – The Turn of the Screw – Do You Have Anything to Say About Flora

Our recommendation:

We didn’t find this book to be scary. Or arguably all that entertaining. It will probably work best for you if you are into the history of the horror/ghost/haunting genre or a huge Henry James fan.

Ben: 4/10. I didn’t find it to be so bad that it was upsetting, I just didn’t really enjoy any part of reading it.

Gabs: 5/10. But only if you read into it more malevolently.

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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?

Peter Pan

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Come fly with Novel Ideas to the Neverland, where you will learn that Peter Pan is more of a dick than you remember. That’s right, this week we’re discussing Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It’s a whimsical, fantastical story that everyone is familiar with in general, if not necessarily in details. In this episode, we discuss why YA is a difficult genre to define, why the protagonist of this story is difficult to define, and why the theme of this story is difficult to define. Basically, we don’t know anything about anything this week. We also talk about very British exchanges, the importance of good form, and why adults should try not to suck ass. And we touch on racism and feminism because we’re, you know, us.

The music bump this week is Frank Mantooth’s arrangement of “Imagination,” because that’s how you fly to the Neverland. Or fly in general.

Our reading recommendations:

Gabs: 6/10 if you’re an adult, 9/10 if you’re a kid

Ben: 8/10 because it’s legitimately funny