Podcasts for Wrapping

The holiday season Guardian Short Stories podcast is back, just in time for all you last-minute wrappers! Also great for long walks away from the yulemosh.

Jingle Bell and Ho Ho Ho Free
Some people like to wrap to Christmas music, but I prefer to squish and tape my corners to short story podcasts, which I listen to on headphones to filter out all the paper carnage. Last year the Guardian Books site podcasted an excellent 12-day series of favorite short stories read by contemporary authors (read the Litagogo overview here, and my review of the excellent reading of Angela Carter's "The Kitchen Child" by Helen Simpson here). The format is roughly similar to The New Yorker: Fiction podcast (a Litagogo fave) in that the reading is followed by a discussion, in this case with Lisa Allardice, the editor of the Guardian's Saturday Review section. The main difference between the Guardian and The New Yorker podcasts is an absence of set-up--the Guardian readers plunge into the stories without preamble or explanation. Also, The New Yorker spreads their story readings across a year, podcasting one per month, whereas the Guardian podcasts one story every day for 12 consecutive days. (Hmmm, The 12 Podcasts of... Never mind.)

Starting at Z
gift books zadie smith
The Gift of Books
As readers of this blog and my reviews will already know, I'm a big fan of Zadie Smith (go read Smith's wonderful essay on joy vs. pleasure on The New York Review of Books site right now--it might slip behind a paywall!), so I'm pleased that this year's Guardian short story series starts with her. Last year the discussions afterward between Allardice and the author/readers felt a bit truncated. That seems to have improved this year, based on the satisfying discussion that follows Smith's reading of "Umberto Buti" by Guiseppe Pontiggia, a story she recently translated for McSweeney's (both story and author are new to me).

Subscribe for Keepers
I noticed that some of last year's 12 story podcasts are no longer available for downloading from the Guardian Short Stories iTunes feed. If you think you might want to have any of these recordings stored on your hard disk or iPod or iPhone, you should subscribe and download. You can always delete the ones you don't want to keep. Lucky for you, the Helen Simpson reading of Angela Carter's "The Kitchen Child" is still available to download from iTunes. Merry listening, indeed.