Somehow I ended up agreeing to run a half marathon with only a few weeks to train.
Knowing I would need some serious motivation to stay on the treadmill, I downloaded some podcasts. I’ve tried podcasts before (and cardio come to think of it). Generally I end up losing track of what they’re saying and drifting off…
But that was before I discovered The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. It’s so interesting to listen to writers talk about other writers. And what they choose to read aloud is revealing, and sometimes surprising.
For example, Paul Theroux—a travel writer who is known for writing about his own epic journeys—chose to read Elizabeth Taylor (no, not the actress) a not little-known writer whose work focused on English village life. Isn’t that fascinating?
Another one I listened to featured Miranda July reading Janet Frame. I’ve never read either author, but the story Prizes was beautiful and sad (and relatable for anyone who has sought solace from social failings in other forms of achievement). Here are the opening lines:
Life is hell, but at least there are prizes. Or so one thought. One knew of the pit ahead, of the grownups lying there rewarded, arranged, and faded, who were so long ago bright as poppies. One learned to take one’s own deserved place on the edge, reading to leap, not to hang back in a status-free huddle where bodies were warm together and the future darkness seemed less frightening. Therefore, one learned to win prizes, to be surrounded in sleep by a dream of ordinal numbers, to stand in best clothes upon platforms in order to receive medals threatened upon black-and-gold ribbons, books “bound in calf,” scrolled certificates. One’s face became, from habit, incandescent with achievement.
While I really do love my new favorite podcast, I can’t help but think of this SNL skit and giggle every time I listen to it.