The other night I finished reading Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's puzzle-novel about how human beings prey on each other physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's the sort of book that you finish, close, and think about while staring into space for a good half hour. Then you desperately want to talk to someone about it. You want to undress it, to examine it, to further understand it by dissecting it with a friend. When I was a graduate student at Bennington, my fellow students and I spent many hours talking about books. Many, many, many hours. Not only the hours sitting around a conference table woefully comparing our work with those of the masters (although, of course, we did that-- I had an incredible year-long streak of reading only nonfiction that people mentioned in the workshops), but hours upon hours of sitting around in a student lounge debating why It was so weird, or which Faulkner we were likely to go back to. I distinctly remember a 3:00 AM wine-induced argument about whether "the canon" was just east coast academic snobbery, and what books were in it. Then we'd get up at 9 AM and go to workshops and talk about more books. It was an incredibly good time. The best way to characterize this environment, really, was the game running Charades: one of our number insisted that we play a massively long and adrenaline-rushed version of the miming game. Our whole class of twenty-five people participated. You haven't lived until you've seen a bunch of book nerds miming "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," or "What is the What," or "Long Day's Journey Into Night."
I miss all that. Others do too. I don't want to read strangers' reviews on Cloud Atlas; I want to gab about it with a bunch of people who've read it too. I've been in book clubs, and they're great, but they almost always fall apart within six months. I want to know that I can comfortably compare a books to either Italo Calvino or a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, and that my companions will either know what I'm talking about or be curious to find out. Most of all, I want these awesome people to tell me what to read.
In this spirit, my friends Tod and Rider from Bennington gave me a call. They missed our 2 AM book chats, too. They asked me to read books and talk about them, using the magic of the internet. And so.... we launch Literary Disco, a podcast.
We've recorded about six episodes so far, and I have to say, I'm having the time of my life. Sometimes it's just the three of us. Sometimes we bring in an outside writer and we all talk about a book together.
Basically, all you need to know is that we're a bunch of writers talking about books. We love them and we laugh at them. It's awesome.
So if that interests you, please listen and subscribe and write and read.