9. My Sister, the Serial Killer / Middlemarch.

Michael posits that George Eliot’s Middlemarch (“the most Victorian of Victorian novels”) is the anti-Atlas Shrugged, while Emily considers just how much thicker blood is than water with Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer. They talk about sibling bonds, literary awards, adolescent reading habits, and trying to be a good person.

Show Notes.

Oyinkan Braithwaite: My Sister, the Serial Killer.

George Eliot: Middlemarch.

The Spouter-Inn’s episode on Middlemarch and bonus episode with Michael!

Brittany Runs a Marathon [trailer].

Virginia Woolf: Orlando.

Megan Gail Coles: Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

Michael discusses Megan Gail Coles’s novel in episode 7.

Michael Crummey: The Innocents.

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8. Carrying the Fire / City of Girls.

Michael joins his name-twin on the greatest adventure undertaken by humankind and finds him companionable, warm, and wise in Carrying the Fire, while Emily breaks down the walls of the “chick lit” ghetto to revel in City of Girls, a surprising story of feminine sexual liberation. They talk about utopian projects, the curse of popularity, non-traditional chosen families, and the value of blending the sciences and the humanities.

Show Notes.

Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner.

Dear Columbia, Michael Collins’s short personal reflection on Columbia, the command module he piloted in orbit around the moon.

Michael Collins narrates a Google Doodle for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission.

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7. Blindness / Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

Emily strongly recommends an encounter with the disorienting bleakness and collapse of Nobel Laureate José Saramago’s Blindness, while Michael strongly recommends an encounter with the soul-wracking cruelty and violence of Megan Gail Coles’s Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. They talk about a relentless duty of care forced on women, social breakdowns, Portugal, misogyny, and vulnerability.  

Show Notes.

Blindness by José Saramago.

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.

Michael’s essay At the Back of the Closet.

Agnes Ayer’s ABCs of Amazing Women by Jenny Higgins.

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6. Newfoundland Portfolio / Convenience Store Woman.

Michael thinks about history and community through reading Newfoundland Portfolio, a collection of obituaries by J.M. Sullivan, while Emily considers the abnormality of the hypernormal and different ways of being happy in Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman. They talk about Newfoundland, independent bookstores, summer reading, the service industry, and problematic attitudes toward low-prestige jobs.

Show Notes.

Newfoundland Portfolio: A History in Portraits by J.M. Sullivan.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.

Lanier Phillips, the African-American sailor who was rescued from a shipwreck by Newfoundlanders in the 1940s.

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5. An Artist of the Floating World / The House of the Spirits.

Michael picks at the banality of evil portrayed in Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World, while Emily desperately wants to finish Isabel Allende’s enchanting work of magical realism, The House of the Spirits, but is prevented from it by living on a windswept rock in the North Atlantic. They talk about art that depicts difficult and unpleasant things, spoilers, moral culpability, second-guessing your tastes, and history repeating itself.

Show Notes.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

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