Books of Some Substance podcast

Books of Some Substance


The unofficial podcast of literary misfits everywhere who want to engage with books of "substance" (i.e. serious, respected, heavy, philosophical, classic), or at least considered such.

81 Episodes

  • Books of Some Substance podcast

    81 - Renata Adler's Speedboat


    Renata Adler’s Speedboat starts and stops, accelerates and leaps, soars and crashes just like some sort of . . . well, you get it. Join David, Nathan, and Nick as they discuss this compact novel filled with vignettes of 1970s life and all of the sardonic observations that come along with it. But do the vignettes combine to create something more impactful? Is the book funny?  And how does one define humor in literature anyway? Listen in for our own starts and stops as we talk our way through this intriguing little book and try to define the indefinable.
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    80 - W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants


    Just because you bought a copy of W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants in the fiction section doesn’t make it fiction. Or does it? Join Nathan, David, and Nick for a conversation about fiction vs. non-fiction vs. creative non-fiction vs. journalism vs. memoir vs. Nick’s favorite genre of “who cares as long as you like it." Topics discussed also include: the way reading about memory triggers one’s own memory, the Nabokovian butterfly man, and a Sebaldian account of recommending Sebald to others. The Books of Some Substance crew wish you the happiest of holidays. May you spend them reading and thinking about a man who walks around thinking about the things he’s read.
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    79 - George Saunders' Tenth of December (Guest: Taylor Vick of Boy Scouts)


    Bay Area musician Taylor Vick of Boy Scouts joins the podcast this episode to share her love for George Saunders’ The Tenth of December. Listen in as Taylor and Nick talk about the book’s use of absurdist mechanisms to move the reader, the connections between Saunders’ work and Boy Scouts, and their own attempts to explore new areas of art, despite any existing contextual baggage. Listening to this episode whilst going on a long walk is not mandatory, but nevertheless highly recommended. Boy Scouts’ excellent new record Wayfinder is available now from ANTI- Records.
  • Books of Some Substance podcast

    78 - W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn


    In this episode, friend of the podcast and book club Eric Heiman joins David and Nathan to talk about W.G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn. The three get into the melancholic depiction of entropy eating away so much of human life, the sense of historical vertigo, and the (un)fictionality of the novel. Join the three as they discuss the style, form, and substance of Sebald's enigmatic work.
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    77 - Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (Guest: Aatif Rashid)


    Aatif Rashid, author of the novel Portrait of Sebastian Khan, joins the podcast to profess his love for Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. The one with, like, a million volumes? The one that’s jam-packed with the subtleties of human interactions, relationships, and communications (or lack thereof)? The one that you saw on all of those “great books” lists, but has since slipped away from the shelves of contemporary readers? Yes, that one indeed. Listen in as Aatif and David chat about why this movement of all movements is still a must-read. You can find out more about Aatif Rashid here and you can find Portrait of Sebastian Khan via 7.13 Books.   Also, for anyone curious about the article Aatif refernces in the episode, here it is:  "A Text of Arrested Desire: The Anticlimax of Extended Narrative in Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time" (1988) by Lynette Felber
  • Books of Some Substance podcast

    76 - Hermann Hesse's Siddartha


    Ah yes, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. You probably read it in high school or college as a young seeker of truth, but have you read it later in life? Do the messages change after you too have gone out into the world and been both drawn to and broken by its sweet, empty promises? And most importantly, have you been pronouncing Siddhartha properly all this time? (We haven’t.)   Join Nathan and David as they take another spin through Hesse’s most known novel. But just remember — we could tell you what this novel is about, but one can only share knowledge, not wisdom.
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    75 - Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace: Volume 4


    Down with Napoleon! Long live Mother Russia! Ole Kutuzov and the gang aren’t the only winners here. Anyone who has read through the entirety of War and Peace — David, Nathan, and Nick now counting themselves as part of the club — knows that Tolstoy’s masterpiece and its ruminations on free will, history, and tragedy of both micro and macro proportions is and absolute joy and rather hard to stop thinking about. Join us for the fourth — and final — episode in our series on War and Peace and partake in our endless interest and discussion. Whether or not you choose to move your arms while listening is entirely up to you. Or is it?
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    74 - Santiago Gamboa's Necropolis (Guest: Mark Haber)


    Novelist Mark Haber joins the podcast to talk about one of his underdogs: Santiago Gamboa and his excellent novel Necropolis. Necropolis is a novel full of narratives, soaked in storytelling, and driven by a cast of colorful characters seeking some kind of redemption. Mark and David dive into the novel's plots and craft, and Mark touches upon his own conversations with Gamboa and Gamboa's other works of fiction available in English. Mark Haber's novel Reinhardt's Garden was published by Coffee House Press in 2019 and is "an exhilarating fever dream about the search for the secret of melancholy" according to Publisher's Weekly, and we here at BOSS think it's a damn fine novel indeed. Highly recommended.  
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    73 - Ben Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station (Guest: Ned Russin of Title Fight and Glitterer)


    Musician Ned Russin of Title Fight and Glitterer joins the podcast to share his love for Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and to also chat about his own latest creations: Glitterer’s new record Life Is Not a Lesson and his first published novel Horizontal Rust. It’s an all-encompassing conversation on experience, reality, and authenticity — all topics that get more elusive the more one tries to pin them down.  In other words: the best kind of topics. Life Is Not a Lesson is available now from ANTI- Records and Horizontal Rust is available now from Shining Life Press.
  • Books of Some Substance podcast

    72 - Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace: Volume 3


    Third time’s the charm! David, Nathan, and Nick march on through Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, having now conquered Volume 3. Listen in as they talk through Tolstoy’s increasingly direct commentary on the nature of history, Pierre’s Christ-like and/or quixotic vibes, and how it all relates to . . . cryptocurrency? If Tolstoy gets to include lengthy digressions on beehives, maybe we can make a few experimental analogies along the way, too, you know? Stick around for the final War and Peace episode in June because, after all, time and patience are a soldier’s (and reader’s) best friend.

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