Monday, May 17, 2021

Something to Listen to in the Watches of the Morning

Working nights has its particular pleasures, one of which is having quiet time in the solitude of the wee hours.  In between the typically not-too-arduous tasks I have to perform, there is plenty of time for reading, or for listening to podcasts.  Recently, I found a way to combine recreational reading and podcast listening in the form of a podcast about my beloved Gene Wolfe.  The ReReading Wolfe podcast has a tagline which rings true for the Wolfe fan: "You can't read a Gene Wolfe story, you can only reread a Gene Wolfe story."

Wolfe's oeuvre consists of dense, literary 'genre fiction', with unreliable narrators, allusions to other works of fiction, and plenty of wordplay.  The podcast has been concentrating on a chapter-by-chapter review of Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, his magnum opus.  TBotNS is ultimately a story about stories, set in a future in which so much history has accumulated that it is indistinguishable from myth- in one hilarious moment, the protagonist reads a story in which the Minotaur and the Monitor are conflated.  The book is dense, and requires a lot of careful attention, so a reread accompanied by a discussion, including guest appearances by Wolfe scholars, is a fun exercise.  The podcast is also very funny, with each episode being presented by a fake sponsor which is lifted from the text of the book.

It's a fun listen for a certain demographic, of which I am a member.   Best of all, it's gotten me to pick up the book again.  I've read it a couple of times, trying to piece together more of the Byzantine narrative which lurks behind the main plot.  If you're a Wolfe fan, it's pretty much essential listening.

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