Welcome to the second installment of “Bookcasts”, where I give you a brief rundown on the podcasts that I follow. Those that don’t have books as their primary subject matter will be marked with an asterisk. Part one is is here.
In Our Time is a long-running BBC Radio programme that’s very much like CBC Radio’s Ideas, although the topics turn more frequently to literary matters (I’m not sure if it’s still up in the archives, but there was an excellent show on Borges a while back).
The Good: Even though his pronunciation can be a little idiosyncratic, Melvyn Bragg is a spectacularly good host. He’s well-informed, well-spoken, and he manages to keep the discussion on track so that as much of a given topic can be covered—although it should be noted that the discussion doesn’t ever descend into superficiality.
The Bad: Once in a while Bragg will try to push the expert guests into discussing popular preconceptions about the issue when they clearly don’t want to, but otherwise I’ve got nothing at all bad to say about this podcast. It’s probably the one I anticipate most eagerly.
What we have here is an excellent series of author interviews from a radio station in Santa Monica.
The Good: Michael Silverblatt (the host) asks the most sophisticated questions of any host in any of the podcasts I listen to, and the guest are always obliging in that they give equally sophisticated answers.
The Bad: His voice, while eventually soothing, takes a little while to get used to, and sometimes I think that you need a literature degree to follow the show.
The New York Times delivers essentially an irreverent version of its weekend literary supplement in this podcast.
The Good: The podcast offers an insider look, not at the literary imagination, but at the behind-the-scenes world of publishing and criticism. The best thing about it is they present it like they’re just a bunch of folks getting together to talk about books. And they just happen to be smart and connected.
The Bad: Sometimes they get a little bit too into the inside world and forget that they are broadcasting to an audience that doesn’t know these people personally, and it can be hard to follow their banter. The telephone interviews don’t always have the best sound quality either.
Part three tomorrow, probably.