Info

Books of Some Substance

Heavy conversations about heavy books.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Books of Some Substance
2023
January


2022
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
March
February


2016
December
November
August
July
May
April
February


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1

Welcome to the Books of Some Substance (B.O.S.S.) Podcast.

Read the books, take a listen.

Jan 29, 2023

David, Nathan, and Nick continue on their expedition for misplaced minutes, this time tackling Marcel Proust’s fifth installment, The Captive & The Fugitive. Topics this time around include: the endless cycle of the narrator’s obsession and apathy toward Albertine; the errors and inconsistencies of this posthumously published work (and whether that matters at all); the ability of different readers to find different points of connection in a lengthy work so packed with details that it begins to approximate real life.

Say what you will about My Darling Marcel™, but our narrator hero can still deliver quite the impressive take on art, time, and space. 

Only one more volume to go — stay tuned for the coming finale as we wrap up our search and seek to regain all that time sunk into this podcast series.

Dec 30, 2022

David, Eric, and Nick dive into The Vegetarian, a 2007 novel by Han Kang that, after its English translation, won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. This compact work will appeal to anyone interested in tightly architected narrative structures, complex questions of individual agency, and visceral scenes situated right next to moments of quiet contemplation.

 

One’s ability to choose, well, anything at all is not quite so black and white, is it?

Nov 14, 2022

Nathan, David, and Nick tackle Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. They discuss how groundbreaking it was at the time to so openly write about homosexuality, the noticeable increase in the narrator’s presence in the book’s happenings, and the increased level of action in play (at least in comparison to prior volumes, that is).

Listen in as you continue on your own Proust journey and remember: It’s okay if you can’t pronounce French names either.

Oct 9, 2022

Seth — aficionado of difficult fiction and driving force behind WASTE Mailing List — joins the podcast this episode to chat with David about the endless gifts to be found within the endless layers of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. Pynchon-lite it is not! Encompassing both the absurd and the prophetic, this early work by the reclusive author covers everything from embedded allusions to the cultural tumult of the 1960s, distrust of any and all formal systems, and a prescient view of the future of communication (cough, the internet, cough). But perhaps the most meaningful conclusion to draw from Pynchon’s work is the absence of drawn conclusions. It’s messy out there, readers.

Grab a copy, give it a read, give it another read, then take a listen. And make sure to check out Seth’s work at WASTE Mailing List’s Youtube and Instagram.

Sep 17, 2022

David, Nathan, and Nick continue their journey through Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, this time discussing the third volume, The Guermantes Way. While this one might very well be “a middle book” — and by proximity, this episode “a middle episode” — there is continued brilliance to be enjoyed (if one can make it through the marathon salon scenes, that is). Come for the deep dives on The Dreyfus Affair, stay for the masterful ending. And just remember: You’re halfway home.

Aug 21, 2022

Writer, interviewer, and heavy reader George Salis returns to the podcast, this time to discuss Alexander Theroux’s Fables with David. The two tackle a list of maximalist topics: deep cuts of vocabulary (real and invented), the forever ongoing inclusions of edits and additions that make a work expand even after being published, and, well, lists themselves. Salis also provides insight into the world of Theroux via his past interviews with the writer and involvement in the publishing process of Fables.

Grab a copy, give this latest episode a listen, and check out Salis' work at The Collidescope. May your sentences be long, your word choices intricate, and your fables dark.

Aug 7, 2022

David, Eric, and Nick seek out some mid-summer spookiness in Shirley Jackson’s acclaimed We Have Always Lived in the Castle and instead find a compact work that is much more complicated than the horror themes, accessible sentences, and vaguely young adult-ish book cover (thanks Penguin Classics) lead one to believe. Cheers to Jackson for walking the line between genre and literary fiction and forcing the reader to sit with a story that has all the trappings of a murder mystery, but none of the virtuous resolutions. Perhaps we are all lacking the ability to communicate across societal lines, forever content in our ever-shrinking castles after all.

Jul 4, 2022

David, Nick, and Nathan reconvene to continue their Proust pilgrimage, this time tackling the second volume, Within a Budding Grove. There is discussion around the narrator’s age — whether it be twelve or twenty-two, Proust certainly has a knack for combining the idealism and naiveté of youth with the insight and wisdom of adulthood. There is discussion around the book’s repetition of similar events and themes and how it is used to advance the book’s common aesthetic. And there is discussion around that (infamous?) wrestling scene between Gilberte and the narrator and just exactly what was transpiring amidst the perspiring.

At the very least, this one is chock-full of wonderful Proust quotes, the beauty of which (we hope) carries the episode on its own.

Jun 7, 2022

David, Eric, and Nick spend a beautiful Saturday doing what they love: wading into the tides of the irrational, crushing systems in which we have existed, currently exist, and will continue to exist. In other words: Discussing Franz Kafka!

 

Three of Kafka’s short works provide more than enough to chew on, whether it is The Judgment and its quick turn from mundane to surreal, A Country Doctor and its full-blown phantasmagoria, or In the Penal Colony and its melding of mental and bodily anguish. Kafka’s brand of malaise hits just as hard now as it presumably did one hundred years ago — and as it presumably will one hundred years from now.

 

So grab yourself a spot out in the sun, mix up a nice Mai Tai, and listen in as we discuss humanity’s unavoidable contract with the daily absurd.

May 1, 2022

No more searching is necessary. It’s time. It’s time to read In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, that is. And we here at Books of Some Substance will be doing just that, starting off with this episode on the first volume, Swann’s Way.

Listen in as David, Nick, and Nathan begin this long journey by attempting to summarize the actual events in the book (likely to be a recurring challenge); by scratching the surface of the concepts of remembering via the senses, attempting to slow down the passage of time, and the tension between the world of the material vs. the world of idea; and by simply getting lost in passage after passage of beautiful prose.

If you enjoy this episode, know that there will be five more on their way. We’ll be releasing a Proust episode every two months as we continue reading this masterpiece. If you’ve always had In Search of Lost Time on your to-read pile, now is as good of time as any to dig in and join us. Come for the madeleines, stay for the memories.

Mar 9, 2022
David, Nick, and Nathan dive into Bohumil Hrabal’s short novel Closely Watched Trains in this latest episode of the podcast. One part coming of age tale, one part (somewhat) epic tale of resistance, and one part celebration of life’s beautiful banality, this compact work will have you simultaneously smirking and wincing as Hrabal somehow weaves the lightness of youth in with the darkness of living under Nazi occupation in World War II. Grab a copy, give it a quick read, maybe even watch the brilliant Jiří Menzel film adaptation, and listen in for the discussion.
Feb 8, 2022
It is a homecoming of sorts. Sixteen years after David made Nathan read Jorge Luis Borges, the two return to discuss the great Argentinian writer in an episode that has as many labyrinths (well, not quite) and is as infinite (also probably not true) as every one of Borges’ short stories. And while this episode does have a finite beginning and a finite end and can only focus on three of the hits (Tlön, Uqbar, Orbius Tertius, The Library of Babel, and The Garden of Forking Paths), the two still can’t seem to entirely wrap their heads around the author’s rapid world building, extremely high ratio of ideas vs. word count, and surprisingly playful nature. It’s safe to say that we at Books of Some Substance think Borges is pretty cool.

Take the litmus test: Read some JLB, then be our friend.  We’ll see you at the end (or at the beginning).

Jan 20, 2022

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.

Dec 28, 2021

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.

Nov 15, 2021

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.

Oct 10, 2021

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.

Aug 31, 2021

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

https://www.jstor.org/stable/42945736

Aug 21, 2021

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.

Jul 21, 2021

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?

Jun 29, 2021

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.

 

Jun 9, 2021

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.

May 21, 2021

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.

Apr 29, 2021

In celebration of National Poetry Month, singer-songwriter and poet Valerie June calls into the podcast and chats with Nick about her love of The Gift: Poems by Hafiz (Renderings by Daniel Ladinsky), the relationship between lyrics and poetry in her own work, and viewing the world through a positive lens. Additional topics include: Townes Van Zandt, time (i.e. what is it really?), and whether we humans will ever grow out of our comfort in discomfort.

 

Valerie has just released her new record, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers, and a new collection of poetry, Maps for the Modern World. The two complement each other extremely well and just might be the medicine you need for all that ails you.

Apr 12, 2021

David, Nathan, and Nick continue their journey through Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, this time tackling Volume Two. Characterized by a little less war and a lot more peace, this volume offers plenty of saucy romance, costume-fueled shenanigans, and overly long hunting scenes. Listen in as we recap the many love triangles, discuss the nature of moral fiction, and reveal who most identifies with the character of Anatole.

 

If you are reading along with us: Do not give up the good fight! Episodes on Volume Three and Volume Four to come in May and June of 2021.

Mar 24, 2021

Nick chats with Jesse Cash, guitarist and vocalist of the progressive metal band ERRA, about Cormac McCarthy on this latest episode of the Books of Some Substance podcast. The book at hand is Suttree, a tale of a troubled man who has left an affluent past to live in a dilapidated houseboat and hang out in the underbelly of society. The two discuss McCarthy’s masterful use of both complex and simple sentences, the vague origin of Cornelius Suttree’s deeply embedded pain, and also whether or not an artist needs misery in order to create.

 

ERRA’s new self-titled record is available now via UNFD. And you can learn a thing or two about shredding by following Jesse Cash on Instagram.

1 2 3 4 Next »