#QuestusLibrus – The Midnight Podcast


As you can likely plainly see, my submission for this assignment is done in a format that replicates a podcast. One can easily tell this not a scripted podcast, for there are a lot of awkward pauses and the words do not flow as they would if read from a script. This is one of those casual podcasts where I discuss whatever I feel is important at the time, and tonight, I felt that explaining the mediums through which I consumed the literature of this course was of such importance.

An S-Review for S-Town

S-Town is a pretty good podcast.

I know that statement sounds very bland and halfhearted but it is the best single sentence  review of S-Town. Of course, I am going to provide a more detailed review, but I would like to first pause and explain the inclusion of the single sentence review aforementioned. The most prominent motif within S-Town is the presence an ever-worsening world, full of ever-worsening people, places, and things, of which we are unable to stop or reverse, so we must continue in this miserable existence or quit while we are ahead. Therefore, it seemed very fitting to include a very uninteresting, uninformative, and unhelpful review, to epitomize this motif in the form of a review.  With that explanation, done, on the actual review.

S-Town is a podcast that transitions between genres of a murder mystery, a treasure hunt, and ultimately, a character study, with each phase offering mystery, comedy, conflict, and entertainment, which I dare not explain further due to the threat of spoilers. The central person (or character) in S-Town is John B. McLemore, and he is the catalyst of every story, conflict, and mystery within S-Town. He alone makes the podcast a joy, for his unique and vibrant personality will keep most people listening simply to hear what he will say next.  From this reason, S-Town evolves into a character study of John; his life, those with whom  his life influences, and what his life reveals about the world become the crux for the central motif of S-Town described in the previous paragraph. The narrator and journalist, Brian Reed, does an excellent job with S-Town — except with one thing, which I discuss later, for his attention to detail and in-depth research help navigate the reader through this journey.  Not to mention his voice is nice to listen, which is important for a seven hour novel.

In my mind, there only exists two negatives of S-Town: one I did not have  trouble overcoming; the other, though, was more challenging. The first negative of S-Town was its structure. If you like to listen to short podcasts, S-Town may perhaps be a struggle for you. Each entry in the podcast — referred to as chapters — is at least 50 minutes long, with some chapters surpassing an hour. Thus, listening to S-Town in place of a daily podcast one might listen to as a part of a routine will be quite challenging, for trying to listen to S-Town in say 30 minute increments can get confusing because there is a lot of information and characters within each chapter; and it is easy to get lost. One can easily space the chapters out over an extended period, but I would recommend not splitting the chapters into smaller sections. And this was Brian Reed’s intention: for S-Town to be interpreted and subsequently listened to as a novel.

The second negative was the ending of S-Town. If you despise novels with open-ended endings, then you will find this podcast to be the bane of your existence. As an investigator, Brian Reed finds more questions and little answers, leaving the audience with conclusions that conclude relatively nothing. Understandably, this result is likely due to the fact that many stories are still going on and have not produced their own ends, which begs the question, “why not wait another year-or-so until most or every story has been completed?” It should be noted, however, that much of what is left unanswered pertains to Tyler Goodson, John’s cousin Rita, and the town of Woodstock, and John’s alleged fortune not to John himself, which does become the eventual focus of the podcast. Moreover, I will say that sometimes no explanations make a story or character  more mesmerizing, which S-Town does, but it does so just too much. A little mystery is wonderful, but too much is just an incomplete story.

Despite these two shortcomings, S-Town is still an entertaining, character-driven podcast that will captivate you and make you yearn for more.

Night Circus Review – Philip Patterson

Night Circus is a novel that anyone partial of fantasy will likely enjoy. The book has magic, romance, comedy, and mystery; all of which provide the book with an interesting and engaging narrative that is both relatively easy to follow but leaves just enough unexplained to have you craving for more. Night Circus seems to take great inspiration from other novels and media before its inception like Harry Potter, The Prestige, and Shakespeare, so it is safe to say that if you are fond of these, you will likely enjoy Night Circus.

However, the audio book, narrated by Jim Dale,  is something that may be more difficult to enjoy. Mr. Dale does wonderfully with narration, but his attempts at providing alternate voices for characters during dialogue are  sometimes quite distracting, out-of-place, or just poor, especially in cases of young female characters, of which there are several.  An apt comparison of Dale’s performance would be Morgan Freeman’s narration of March of the Penguins, if Freeman also attempted to voice over the cacophony of the penguins speech with his own imitation of their screeches and caws. Still, the dialogue is only such with certain characters, and if you can overcome the dialogue of these characters, which I did, then the audio book is an overall pleasant experience. Although, if you asked me, I would’ve given the  female dialogue to a female, for it seems more fitting to me.

For someone who has already read the book, I found the audio-book version to be one that I could listen to while I worked on other things, such as playing a game on my phone. Although, if you did not read the novel prior, this will likely not work for you. Moreover, since there is a plethora of characters, some of which one can easily mistake for another, reading along while listening to the audio book may be more helpful. Ultimately, it really depends on how you listen to (or should I say read?) an audio book.  It should be noted though, if audio books aren’t your thing, then just read the book instead.

Melville Got A Little Angry

Well, here’s a book I have no intention of reading anytime soon: Herman Melville’s seventh novel Pierre; Or the Ambiguities. If you enjoy adventure, action, intrigue, excitement, and fun, then this book is not for you. If you are fond of confusing philosophical musings, abstract and overly dramatic prose, a plot that is occasionally incoherent, the protestations of a frustrated man, and the possibility of incest, then this book is more up your alley.  Pierre; or the Ambiguities is a novel that pretends to be three things simultaneously: a romance, a philosophic, and a critique; but the truth is, Pierre; or the Ambiguities is just one long, complicated, and unnecessary  letter of complaint.  The protagonist — Pierre — is quite obviously Melville that at times one wants to role his or her eyes,  and the actions and conflicts that Pierre is involved in are evidently a comparison to Melville’s strife. There is even a hundred or so pages devoted to a critique on Melville’s perspective of print media at the time. Clearly, Melville had some scores to settle, but rather do so privately and personally, he just pens a wacky and perplexing novel that only further hurt himself. And while there are some positives to this novel, they are so scarce that they are not even worth mentioning. Overall, Pierre; or the Ambiguities is a novel that was written by Melville for Melville and is, in many ways, probably his favorite book — perhaps only second to Moby Dick — solely upon how he arrogantly portrays himself, I mean, Pierre. I would suggest to anyone that this book is  a waste of time, and should one wish to read it, the entirety of this novel and of Melville’s personal tribulations can be summarized in a paragraph in his biography on Wikipedia.