In The Podcast Review, guest reviewer Jessie Borrelle takes a look at a highlight of the international podcasting spectrum.
New Yorker Out Loud isn’t the New Yorker Fiction podcast, the New Yorker Fiction podcast is the New Yorker Fiction podcast. Hosted by fiction editor Deborah Treisman, the Fiction podcast is the sibling of Out Loud, which is hosted by editor of the magazine’s Culture Desk, Sasha Weiss.
Out Loud is a ‘series of weekly conversations about new items and coverage in The New Yorker Magazine’. Like a tiny sonic primer, the podcast scans the contents of the week’s edition, narrowing in on true features and hooky highlights.
Out Loud isn’t there to merely glean the goods that made it into print, but gives an entirely new dimension to the publication, in this the audio augments the static and assiduous nature of print with the more uncontrived and native quality of investigative conversation.
The writers and cultural figures who are either the subject or the author of that week’s material talk with Sasha Weiss, or sometimes interview one another, providing unscripted acumen that is frequently absent from the page, even if not by design.
Sasha Weiss isn’t always the most charismatic interviewer, but she’s engaging enough, if not a little self-conscious — a quality that is audible and could be construed as a touch smug. The Fiction Podcast’s Deborah Triesman is a more fastidious and delicate interviewer with a slow and soft tempo.
There’s the occasional cross-contamination between the Fiction Podcast and Out Loud, as you can imagine, what with the charter of Out Loud seeping naturally into the Fiction Podcast’s territory: ‘Each month, we invite a writer to choose a story from the magazine’s archives to read and discuss.’
This is the anatomy of each podcast: theme tune (buhm-buhm-bah); Triesman introduces story, author and contributor; quick burst of the contributor reading their selected story; Triesman and the contributor pow-wow; the story is recited; they analyse and evaluate the story; theme tune (buhm-buhm-bah).
The podcast is stylistically clean, bare. Some writing is better suited to the page than to sound, but that’s not the point here, because something interesting always happens when a story is read out loud. Texts are selected for their literary kudos. Kudos depends on how the writer writes and what the choosing author values, which sounds obvious, and that’s because it is. It’s interesting to hear them talk of their craft like this.
So if you don’t subscribe to the New Yorker, or have time to read it, now you have something to talk to your handsome barista about while you mentally shave his moustache off.
Recommended podcasts. Here are six to treat your ears.
1. D. T. Max on David Foster Wallace / September 10, 2012: D. T. Max talks to Sasha Weiss about the challenges of writing a biography of David Foster Wallace, who described himself as “an exhibitionist who wants to hide, but is unsuccessful.”
2. Beloved Beşiktaş / March 7 2011: Elif Batuman talks to Blake Eskin about what it’s like to watch a game with Beşiktaş fans (an Istanbul soccer team), and how their devotion expresses itself in love poetry and obscene chants.
3. Dear Miss Renault / December 21 2012: Daniel Mendelsohn on the books that changed his life. Mendelsohn wrote about his boyhood correspondence with the novelist Mary Renault.
1. David Means reads Raymond Carver / October 14, 2010. David Means reads “Chef’s House,” by Raymond Carver.
2. Joyce Carol Oates reads Eudora Welty / March 10 2009. Joyce Carol Oates reads Eudora Welty’s short story ‘Where Is the Voice Coming From’.
3. David Sedaris reads Miranda July / November 1 2012. David Sedaris reads “Roy Spivey,” by the writer and filmmaker Miranda July.
Originally from New Zealand, Jessie Borrelle is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and an executive producer of the antipodean podcast Paper Radio.