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    Episode 8: We begin with a Bookshelf Revisit, in which Tod discovers a pulp gem, Julia goes Sherlock crazy, and Rider is hyperbolic as usual. Then we discuss the novella Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. We end with Judging a Book By Its Cover, wherein Tod is a genius and yet still doesn’t know where (or what) Thailand is.



9 Responses to Episode 8: Train Dreams

  • Chema wrote on July 10, 2012 at 4:32 //

    I ditched Savage Detectives in the second part as well, for similar reasons. Though the first part hadn’t blown me away, I’d definitely enjoyed it, but the second part, short, first-person accounts by numerous characters about the absent, would-be protagonists, suffered from my not caring enough (or as much as the countless narrators) about the two protagonists. There was also a huge drop in style, voice, content, plot, narrative–everything.

    To be fair, there were a few great chaptets in that section (especially the one with the Argentinian lady hiding in a bathroom stall as the Night of Tlatelolco raged on outside) but they were too few and far between.

    I had the added benefit of finding parallels between Savage Detectives and a novel I love, Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (I’d be willing to bet Bolaño wrote Savage Detectives with Hopscotch in mind), but that wasn’t enough to get me through.

    I’ve never returned to the novel a second time, and though I might, I have no problem never returning to it. However great the third part may be, I got enough out of the novel to walk away happy. What I got out of it is that if you’re going to change up your narrative that fucking much, give your reader a reason to stick around or don’t blame them for leaving ’cause there’s so many, too many, other better things they could read instead.

    • Rider wrote on July 16, 2012 at 9:25 //

      Yes, Chema. Couldn’t agree more. I haven’t read Hopscotch, but I own it. I think I’d rather do that then try Savage Detectives again.

  • Laura wrote on July 12, 2012 at 2:24 //

    This was a great episode. My favourite moment was “Bumbersnatch.”

  • Gail wrote on October 1, 2012 at 3:08 //

    This is wonderful!

  • Beth wrote on October 27, 2012 at 10:33 //

    I just gave up on Infinite Jest for the second time. Josh Radnor’s new movie (Liberal Arts) had made me think it might be worth another look, and I was liking it a little more the second time around, but I still didn’t go the distance with it. I totally agree that it’s a book people feel like they should read and should like because they are educated people and that’s what educated people do. It’s a little like eating your vegetables. You think it’s supposed to be good for you so you do it, but then the lure of a literary Twinkie like Game of Thrones pulls you away. Actually Game of Thrones is probably more of a literary cheesecake, but the metaphor is still apt.

  • Mona wrote on January 23, 2013 at 6:27 //

    First, I should confess that I haven’t read either Savage Detectives or Infinite Jest…and honestly, I have no desire to, so I probably won’t.

    But as I listened to your discussion and heard the joke about Stockholm syndrome, I thought I’d point out this post from The Millions: Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels. In all seriousness, I think this theory has merit.

    I don’t know if Rider still needs to make a decision about Savage Detectives but if so, I say give it a good-faith effort (which it sounds like he has) and then move on with your reading life.

  • Barbara Marshall wrote on February 2, 2013 at 3:50 //

    Julia, I just “revisited” this podcast and wanted to ask you what you think of the American Sherlock Holmes series. At first I didn’t want to watch it because I love, love, LOVE the BBC version. But it’s not bad – as a story, not really Sherlockian though (beyond the deductive thinking).

    And while I’m on the TV questions, were you at Twain’s house when GI (TAPS) visited?

    • literarydisco wrote on May 15, 2013 at 4:15 //

      Hi Barbara,

      Sorry for the huge delay– we get tons of spam and I almost missed this!

      I haven’t seen the American Sherlock Holmes yet. Someday I’ll get to it– I like the idea of a lady Watson. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Indeed, I was in the very house when TAPS visited. A hilarious night.