Seems like this is the year that everyone discovers downloadable audio programs. Which is great. Because in a world of quick-gratifying images, the idea that people still want to listen to someone tell them a story for fifteen minutes or an hour at a go soothes my little verbal-centric heart.
I have a distinct memory of being in a fantastically uncurated thrift store in Astoria, Queens, probably 2007 or 2008, swaddled in a virtual bubble of headphone solitude, listening for the first time to Dan Carlin talk about the Black Death as an apocalyptic event on par with the craziest zombie movie. If you know me, you understand how tailor made this moment was. Pawing through racks of dusty, faded tops in search of a $120 shirt that would cost me $4.50, listening to a lively, enthusiastic voice bring up history from angles I’d never thought of before. It kickstarted my morbid fascination with Plague (another post, y’all), for one, but got me hooked on audio for sure. There have been few times when I have felt more myself than that.
So we listen to the true crime documentary shows. The NPR monoliths and the fun narrative-science shows. We listen to standup comedians banter with their friends. Personally, I’m a sucker for a narrative show, and prefer them 100% of the time over interview/rant shows (with the exception of Carlin, whose historical rants are more like well-wrought sermons). Mostly I like to feel like I’m receiving some information I didn’t have before. Some educational tidbit, some interesting anecdote. I love, love, love the New Yorker Fiction podcast. It helps me conquer that constant dilemma of should-I-really-be-sitting-here-reading-when-I-have-to-make-food/clean-up-food/groom-myself-like-a-grownup-human-needs-to? I can get through the mundane tasks of non-work time while George Sanders reads me a Grace Paley story. I mean, what’s better than that?
Here is where I ask for help, though. I’d love to get some more literary/fiction type podcasts into my life, possibly ones that focus outside the narrow purview of New Yorker-style fiction. However, after plumbing lists of recommended programs, I’m still at a loss. Because while it’s lovely to hear someone tell a good story, there is little I find more difficult to listen to than writers talking about how awful and difficult and demoralizing and financially irresponsible and hopeless it is to write. I spent two years at an MFA program listening to people kvetch about how much WORK it was and how HARD it was to write their dang books, and then have to sell them, and blah, blah, blah. I get it. I do not need people to tell me that writing takes effort and concentration. Particularly those who have achieved what I am aspiring to. PARTICULARLY those who do not have other jobs to negotiate. It makes an already slow process even more arduous. Add to this the conclusion of pretty much every discussion on “craft” being “it’s different for everyone,” you’ve got a lot of 15-minute blocs I’d like back.
Anybody have a good recommendation for out-loud story programs–particularly literary in nature and not so much the Moth-style stage performance, though a good Moth story is bomb, true–that don’t focus on interviews or craft discussions? Rant over. Time to get back to this miserable, awful, slog of an attempt to write (thats still more pleasant than 90% of the jobs I could be doing). Or maybe I’ll do the dishes. Probably that. OOOoooooOOOoooOOOoooh, a new Radiolab, eh? Dishes it is.