PODCAST

Episode 248: Fully Booked Year in Review 2021

BY MEGAN LABRISE • December 28, 2021

Kirkus correspondent Michael Schaub joins Tom and Megan for a wild year-in-review.

Happy New Year, listeners! Our holiday coverage continues as editor-in-chief Tom Beer and journalist Michael Schaub join host Megan Labrise for the 2021 Fully Booked Year in Review. This special episode features a spirited discussion of 2021’s wackiest book news and the revelation—and celebration!—of the year’s most downloaded interview.

First, Schaub, a Texas-based journalist who covers everything from the sacred to the profane in Kirkus’ “Seen & Heard” book news column, takes Tom and Megan on a guided tour of “The Year’s Weirdest Book News.” (“Remember last year, when you thought, Well, at least 2020 is the weirdest year I’m ever going to live through?” Schaub writes. “And then 2021 burst in with big ‘hold my beer’ energy and hoisted its freak flag to the heavens?”) Their wide-ranging discussion interrogates the seemingly gleeful Twitter trolling of Joyce Carol Oates, that time Jeanette Winterson burned her own books, the risk you run when wine flows freely in an audiobook recording session by a former Speaker of the House, and the many creative inappropriate things patrons leave on library lawns (potatoes), in book drops (rats), and in books (a dead snake).

Then, without further ado, the revelation of our most popular episode of the year. And it is…by any measure…the one and only: George Saunders! In January, the beloved author and longtime professor talked Turgenev, Tolstoy, Gogol, and Chekhov in a delightfully strange and satisfying episode recorded Jan. 6, just one week before publication of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life (Random House, Jan. 12). The book, which functions as a master class in reading and writing, includes the full text of seven classic Russian stories, followed by stimulating commentary by Saunders, who proves an amiable guide to the mechanics of fiction and the mysteries of the human mind. He and Megan started with a little “Meet the Russian Masters” jam session, before discussing skaz narrators and whether you need to be a good reader to be a good writer.

As always, thanks for listening! We’ll see you in the New Year.

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

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