Welcome to Literary Disco.
We're Julia, Tod, and Rider -- three good friends who also happen to be huge book nerds. Scattered to the far reaches of Southern California, more Southern California, and mid-Connecticut, we desperately missed each other's company and yelling at each other about Stephen King. We decided to rekindle these friendly intellectual discussions using the magic of the internet and fancy microphones
We're writers, but we've always been readers first and foremost. Since the three of us have been talking and arguing about books for years, we decided to start recording some of our conversations. And since 2012, we've been doing just that. You can read about our humble beginnings on The Rumpus. or you can simply go back to the first episode and begin binging.
Primarily, we read books and stories and essays and talk about them. We read nonfiction, fiction, poetry, articles, plays, classics, children's books, YA, and everything in between. We don't really know what we'll read next. What our next move will be. Because we like everything. Well. Most everything. Okay. We argue about a lot of things. It wouldn't be much of a show if we liked everything, would it?
But we also want to hear what writers are reading. So instead of doing simple interviews, we periodically bring authors on to the podcast and have them select a book for all of us to read and discuss together. And inevitably we do other things. Games. Live shows. Sometimes Julia goes on a whale ship. Sometimes Tod goes on a book tour. Sometimes Rider goes on a rant. We bring on teachers, librarians, authors, actors, maybe you. We'll even, yes, read some Sweet Valley High.
So tell us what you want us to talk about. Follow us on Twitter or talk to us on Facebook. We promise to respond to you, provided you don't make fun of Rider's name.
Julia Pistell is a writer, actor, and public relations expert in Hartford, Connecticut. She has worked in many places around the world, including but not limited to: a hairdresser’s in Atonsu, Ghana; a preschool and university in Dongying, China; a mobile bookstore in Manhattan; a dogwalking collective in Harlem; a library in the South Bronx — and now she is the Director of Writing Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum. A freelance writer, Julia created the Syllable Reading Series and hosts Literary Disco, a podcast about books and reading. Every year she plays a squirrel in Night Fall, and she was selected as one of Mystic Seaport’s 38th Voyagers on the historic whaleship the Charles W. Morgan. She has written an essay for NPR and is currently a contributor to WNPR.org and The Beaker Blog. One of the founding members of Sea Tea Improv, Julia is also in the Advanced Study program at the Upright Citizens Brigade. She has performed in hundreds of improv shows across the United States and is one of the company’s most frequent teachers and coaches. As the Manager of Community Relations, Julia has put together workshops and shows for the homeless, Alzheimer’s caregivers, teenagers, corporate executives, artists, and everyone in between.
Follow Julia on Twitter @echochorus.
Tod Goldberg is the author of over a dozen books, including the novels The House of Secrets (Grand Central), which he co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer, Gangsterland (Counterpoint), a finalist for the Hammett Prize, Living Dead Girl (Soho Press), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the popular Burn Notice series. His essays, journalism, and criticism have appeared in numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, & Wall Street Journal, among many others, and have earned five Nevada Press Association Awards for excellence. His essay “When They Let Them Bleed” was recently selected for Best American Essays 2013. Tod Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Literature from Bennington College and directs the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.He lives in Indio, CA with his wife, the writer Wendy Duren. His next book, a sequel to Gangsterland, will be released in Fall 2017.
Follow Tod on Twitter @todgoldberg.
Rider Strong After being cast as Gavroche in Les Miserables at nine years old, Rider Strong began a career that has lasted two decades and spanned a variety of genres and formats. He became best known in his teens for Boy Meets World, which ran for seven seasons on ABC. At 20, Rider secured his place in the independent film world by starring in Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever. He’s been covered in blood for a slew of horror and thriller films since. Back on stage, he starred as Benjamin Braddock in both the First US National Tour and the Australian productions of The Graduate. Along with his brother, Rider has written and directed three short films that have played over 60 festivals worldwide and won both audience and juried awards at multiple fests. The pair also created an award-winning spec campaign commercial in support of Barack Obama that became the first political ad to air on Comedy Central. They are currently the in-house directors for Girl Meets World and developing their family comedy The Knights of Camp Cascade for Amazon. Rider graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University and received his M.F.A. in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College.
Follow Rider on Twitter @riderstrong.
(Are we time traveling? Yes, a technical glitch set this episode back a few months…)
Kristen Roupenian’s short story “Cat Person” appeared in December 2017 issue of The New Yorker, and promptly became an internet sensation.
Some critics pounced, some critics praised, some men were offended, some women were offended that men were offended…and on and on it went, as these things do in this day and age.
It seems there is something about this story — something about its point of view and its depiction of gender relations — that struck a nerve in the midst of #MeToo.
We decided to read and discuss the story in addition to some older, and truly great, short story comps that work with similar themes. So if you read and loved (or hey, even if you read and hated) Cat Story, these are for you.
We didn’t mean for these episodes to be “timely,” but these days in America, that seems unavoidable.
Between posting our two-parter about Dave Cullen’s Columbine, there has been another school shooting at Sante Fe High School in Texas. Our hearts are breaking, again.
We can only hope to contribute to the conversation and help move our country away from this insanity.
Join us for Part Two of our discussion on Columbine. We talk with Rob Bowman, the incredible English teacher who brought us the students from Part One.
Dave Cullen’s book Columbine is an exhaustive and brilliant examination of the infamous school shooting that stunned the country in 1999.
It is also one of the first books that Tod, Julia, and Rider discussed as friends. Bonding over our love for Cullen’s work is one of the reasons Literary Disco exists.
In light of the fact that school shootings have only become more common, we decided to do something different with the next two episodes of the podcast.
Tod reached out to his friend Rob Bowman, a high school English teacher, and asked if he had any students who might want to read Columbine.
This episode, Part 1, is our discussion with the the three remarkable teenagers Rob assembled. Aiden, Renaissance, and Jada were kind enough to read Cullen’s book and come on our show to share their thoughts.
Part 2 will be the follow up conversation that we had with Bowman.
Guns. High School. Books. Get ready…
I know, it’s a bit confusing, but some tech issues with Episode 123 means we’re skipping it for now.
Instead, we zoom to the future! It’s a Bookshelf Revisit episode with a game — a new game Tod is insisting we call “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” As if there isn’t already a game called that.
But first, we get to hear all about Julia and Tod getting catfished, what children’s book Julia has rediscovered, Rider’s descent into the Empire of Illusion, and Tod’s recent interview with a very successful novelist who also happens to be his brother.
Our fantasy and sci-fi correspondent Will Friedle returns! And he’s picked a doozy for us to read.
Piers Anthony has written dozens of hugely popular fantasy novels, and many of them are set in the magical, pun-filled land of Xanth. Will asked us to read A Spell for Chameleon, the novel that began it all.
And boy, has it not aged well…
We thought Sweet Valley High was rapey. There’s literally a rape trial in the first 30 pages of this book, which seems aimed squarely at 12 year old boys.
Join us for this hilarious and disturbing episode, as we marvel at what was acceptable for kids to read 30 years ago.