When I’m working out or running, I tend to listen to podcasts. I also made Mike suffer through some of them in the car on the way back from New Orleans last month (well, it’s not like he had to suffer that much; he slept most of the way, I think). I should say at the start I’m not a big podcast person. I know of some people who listen to dozens of them, and I can only assume that they are good at multitasking because I find that if I’m listening to one, I can’t be doing much else that requires critical thought. (I’m the same way when it comes to the radio, conversations, and TV. I need focus or it’s barely registering with me.)
So usually I listen to fairly funny podcasts, be they about playing games or telling lies or just three completely inappropriate and offensively hilarious (or is that hilariously offense?) friends living down on the Gulf coast. I also listen to Freakonomics, which is both funny and informative.
Then there’s The New Yorker Fiction Podcast.
It’s sometimes been a challenge to keep up with podcasts that update every week, especially when I’m at school in Vancouver, since I run and go to the gym with friends and it would be fairly antisocial to put on headphones while in their company. (Not that I would do that. Unless they were being really annoying which they never are.*) The New Yorker Fiction podcast, however, is one that I wish updated more often than once a month.
If you follow my friend and colleague ‘Nathan’s blog (and if you like queer fiction, you should), you’ll know that he’s reviewing a short story every day this year. An ambitious endeavor if you ask me—that’s 365 stories, after all; he’s not taking weekends off—but here’s the thing. A short story takes, what, maybe half an hour or an hour to read. (Most editions of the fiction podcast clock in around thirty to forty minutes, I think.)
People often say they would read if they had more time. That’s why it’s surprising to me that short stories aren’t more popular than they are. You’ve got time for a story. Heaven knows I can’t make time for the rest of The New Yorker magazine, but I’ll make time for the story.
The fiction podcast is even better for that. Someone reads it to you. You can listen while you’re on the bus or driving to work, going for your morning run or making dinner. Or you can listen to it before you go to bed and imagine you’re a kid again and your mom or dad is reading to you. Only this time the role of parent is played by Richard Ford or Margaret Atwood or Edwidge Danticat, and they’re not reading you Little Golden Books .
*I don’t know why I felt it necessary to emphasize that. I rather doubt they’ll ever read this. And judging from my site stats, there aren’t a whole lot of others who do either, so I could write completely ridiculous things, especially down here in a footnote, like Turkey Vulture Tube Tops and no one would be the wiser. Probably.