Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Literature podcasts

I’m sure you’re all as giddy as we are for Thursday’s Short Story Club kick-off. As we continue to build momentum for the short form, we thought we’d share some more great short story resources to help you mark the time.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m currently cursed with an hour-long commute. That’s one hour each way. This means I’m always looking for good commute-listening fodder. The last refuge of the sane commuter is variety, so in addition to radio, my own music and any number of audio books, I have a few trusty podcasts standing by to get me through the tedium. Here they are in order of preference:

The gold standard: The New Yorker Fiction Podcast.

Fiction Editor Deborah Triesman invites recent or regular contributors to the New Yorker to pull their favorite stories from the magazine’s archives and read them aloud for the podcast. The readings are sandwhiched between excellent and interesting commentary, and I have very rarely come away from an episode disappointed (though it has happened on occasion.) New podcasts once a month. Run-time is typically right around 40 minutes or so. Check it out.

Host Isaiah Sheffer introduces a wide variety of short stories which are performed in front of a live audience by actors of the stage and screen. The episodes usually feature two different stories, generally given a loose theme that binds them together. They have recently added some commentary to spice things up a bit and I think it’s done the trick. The ratio of stories I don’t like is slightly higher than those I listen to in the New Yorker podcast, but what it lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in quantity. New podcasts every week. Run-time is right at 1 hour per show.

There are also a few “amateur hour” honorable mentions:

The Writing Show. Host Paula B. reads incoming submissions of short stories or first chapters (usually 4 per hour-long show) and gives her impressions freely. There’s a lot of genre stuff to wade through, but there are also some real gems to be found. Our own Tucker McCann has been featured, but since the submissions are anonymous, I won’t tell you which episode.

The Lit Show. In addition to interviews and roundtables, students and alumni of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop regularly share their work on this podcast. It’s interesting to see what kind of work comes out of a top-flight MFA program.

The Moth. From iTunes: “The Moth features people telling true, engaging, funny, touching and eye-opening stories from their lives.” Because they are performed live, and without notes, the stories don’t often have the structure of written stories. But they can be entertaining.

Any other podcast aficionados out there? Keeping in mind that I try to stay in the lit-fic vein, what are some other short fiction podcasts I shouldn’t live without?

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