Episode 75: Auld Lang Syne

On December 28, Kasie and Rex were on vacation but pre-recorded an end-of-the-year round-up for your listening pleasure. Happy New Year! Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day

Auld Lang Syne


  • What the phrase means and how it’s being used
  • When/Why/How did this retelling thing start?
  • How to do it right
people doing cheers
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Link to the podcast

Segment 1

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my favorite Christmas song (which I have yet to hear) is “Same Old Lang” by Dan Fogelburg and a friend argued that song must be about New Year’s since the title refers to “Auld Lang Syne” a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and put to song traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve.

Burns may have borrowed some of the lyrics from a 1711-ish song by James Watson:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,

and never thought upon;

The flames of Love extinguished,

and fully past and gone:

Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,

that loving Breast of thine;

That thou canst never once reflect

On old long syne.

With this being our last broadcast of the year, I thought we’d do a little end-of-year thing and talk about goals and outcomes and plans for 2020. Cool?

Old lang syne means “old times” or nostalgia. So I went looking at our last year’s-worth of posts and thought we could talk about what we’ve worked on this year.

52 episodes of writing talk. It’s been a lot of fun this year.

Some of our personal expert moments: The Horror Genre Episode (Rex) and The Difference Between Fiction and Non-Fiction (Duh) with Anna Courie (Kasie).

Segment 2

So beyond our show, what big things happened in literature this year?

The National Book Awards shortlist includes 5 fiction nominees I’ve never heard of. So there’s that. All by major publishers, which is interesting. Since last year we saw some boutique and small press representations:

The 2019 Pulitzer: The Overstory, by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)

Man-Booker Prize went to a woman of color for the first time but she’s sharing it with a familiar face: Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other.

Entertainment Weekly added a Top 10 List of their own:

  • 10. The Need by Helen Phillips
  • 9. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
  • 8. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
  • 7. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • 6. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • 5. Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
  • 4. Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • 3. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • 2. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • 1. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Read any of those? Embarrassingly, me neither.

LitHub gives us the best of the literary world on the internet. Best of 2019 here. They went all “best of the decade” on us.

Segment 3 & 4

Which made me think, what’s happened in our world in the last ten years? Some trends worth discussing:

  • The opportunity afforded by self/indie publishing.
  • The stigma(?) associated with self/indie publishing.
  • The decreasing role of literary agents.
  • The rise of small press and boutique publishing.
  • Short stories in decline, short stories on the rise. So which is it?
  • Digital journals: more opportunity or dilution of the literary world?
  • More marginalized voices.
  • The rise of e-reader popularity and “scandalous” titles — romance authors are KILLING it.
  • Who is making money and how are they making it?

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