Interview With Mike Chasar, Author of “Everyday Reading”

Whatever happened to poetry? Why don’t most of us read it anymore? Can you name three prominent poets? In his book, Everyday Reading: Poetry and Popular Culture in Modern America, Mike Chasar chronicles a time not so very long ago (the first half of the 20th century) when average people consumed, created and cared about poetry. I asked Mr. Chasar for an interview and this is the result.  Continue reading

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Episode 16: Models for a Publishing Future?

In this week’s Critical Margins Podcast, Jason and Kevin discuss models worth following in the future of publishing and the myths that come along with digital publishing. Do we all need to act like we’re publishers in order to succeed? Over at Litragger.com, author Adam Lefton wrote an article titled, “5 Myths About the New Era of Publishing.” Lefton brings up some excellent points about the future of publishing we’d like to discuss today.

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Interview with Deven M. Patel, Author of “Text to Tradition”

The question of what constitutes a classic work of literature is often restricted to primarily Western works. Ditto the matter of what constitutes a readership. In his book Text to Tradition: The Naisadhīyacarita and Literary Community in South Asia, Deven M. Patel addresses these fascinating questions. I asked him for an interview and this is the result. Continue reading

Chaucer book

Episode 15: The Sacred and Profane: Reading Naughty Words in Books

Today, Jason and Kevin look at profanity in books. Do bad words turn you off? Will you keep reading if a book is laced with profanity? And, does profanity matter when reading a book, especially if that book serves a purpose or holds an important place in your life?

A lot of readers dislike profanity in books. But we’re wary of censorship, especially in literature. So-called bad words can often have an enlightening effect on what we read. and profanity in literature has existed for millenia: just go read some chaucer for some examples.

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"Reading alone" (Photo credit:

Episode 14 – The Unwashed Reviews

Literary critics have lorded over the pages of elite magazines for centuries, and in the twentieth century, magazines like the New Yorker and The Atlantic have helped make and break potential new books. But now, we’re in the 21st century. People find books through social media recommendations and user ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Book review publications have gone belly up or have downsized.

Today, Jason and I look critically at the critics. What can they offer us today, if anything? Do we really rely on professional critics to help us choose what to read?

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Book Marketing

Episode 13: How To Find a Place on the Shelf

All writers have idols, but it’s important to remember that those idols are just human beings. Is it a good move for writers and readers to take their idols off the pedestal and to examine their flaws? What if we try to write better than our idols?

In this show, we explore how to find a place on the shelf. We discuss why it’s important to not idolize our favorite writers, but to instead examine them closely and figure out their best moves.

Show notes:

We want to hear from you! If you like the podcast, rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you listen to us. Or leave us a comment in the show notes.

Special thanks to Jason and the Beast for our show’s theme song, “Street Preacher.”

Moby Dick

Interview with Gavin Jones, Author of “Failure and the American Writer”

“What a loser.” Ouch. Not something we would ever want said of ourselves. Americans do not look kindly on failure or failures. What role have they played in American literary history? Which characters in American classic novels would you categorize as failures? How many American writers thought of themselves as failures or thought long and hard about failure? These are the kinds of questions Gavin Jones addresses in his book, Failure and the American Writer: A Literary History. I was intrigued by the title and asked Mr. Jones for an interview. He graciously agreed, and this is the result.  Continue reading

Interview with Michael Emmerich, Author of “The Tale of Genji”

Quick: what books pop into your head when you think of classics of world literature? Don Quixote? The Arabian Nights? Why do some books become part of the canon of world literature and not merely beloved of specific nations or cultures? In his new book, The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature, Michael Emmerich discusses a classic of Japanese literature that also became one of the books that cultured people at least know about. What does the tale of The Tale of Genji tell us about reading habits and questions of literary prestige worldwide over the centuries and about Japan’s role in the world? I wrote to ask Mr. Emmerich for an interview. He graciously agreed and this is the result.

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Electronic Literature

Episode 12: How to Write For the Crowd

In this week’s Critical Margins podcast, Jason Braun and Kevin Eagan discuss crowdfunding and crowdsourcing for writers. How might writers implement smart strategies online to get readers involved in the process? Crowdfunding is the way in which artists and writers can both get funding for their projects and find participants. Crowdsourcing, however, is about getting people involved in the creative and production process. Both approaches work for writers hoping to go at it alone.

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Walk in the Woods

Review: “A Philosophy of Walking” by Frederic Gros

I have a love/hate relationship with walking. On the one hand, I see the benefits of walking to help solve a creative problem. On the other hand, I often feel like walking is frivolous — or worse, a distraction. And anyway, isn’t it better to go on a run or bike ride, a more rigorous workout? This was my thinking.

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