My New Favorite Time-Killer

Hello. I’m Mo Hickey, newly-appointed editrix of the Culture Scout Blog. I got a new laptop fairly recently, and the first thing I did was cruise the iTunes store for podcasts. After subscribing to a few NPR shows, I typed “fiction” into the search bar, wondering if there were any podcasts devoted specifically to literature. The answer was a resounding “Of course there are, where have you been?” Thus I found the bounty that now takes up several gigs in my iTunes library.

My favorite series is the New Yorker Fiction podcast. It’s everything I could ever want from free, downloadable entertainment. Once a month, a writer plumbs the back catalog of the New Yorker Fiction section to come up with a favorite story by another writer. The writer then reads the story aloud and discusses it with the New Yorker Fiction editor, Deborah Treisman.

The first episode I heard was Donald Antrim reading Donald Barthelme‘s story “I Bought A Little City”, published in 1974. (The way Antrim reads is reason enough to listen to this one.) Another episode has Tobias Wolff reading Denis Johnson‘s “Emergency” and talking about how surprised Johnson was that “Jesus’ Son” came to be seen by many as his masterpiece.

The coolest thing about this show is that all the artistic admiration, analysis, anecdotes and gossip come from a writer who truly feels the story he or she is reading. I love reading stories aloud myself–there’s something about loving a story that makes me want to form the words with my mouth. As an aspiring writer, it’s both exciting and comforting to see this level of appreciation between successful writers and to know that, like me, they love some stories so much that they feel a fundamental need to share them.