First off, today I want to say thank you to Arielle Nissenblatt. Over the last week, I’ve had a spike in pitches, followers, and subscribers. Arielle’s journey to her place in the podcasting world has helped to boost my voice and the voice of other podcast critics. I know reviewing podcasts with a critical eye is important, and seeing that others also know the importance of this is a really gratifying, and inspiring thing. Thank you to Arielle for shouting us out on Twitter (link to tweet here if you want to meet more of us) and getting so many things moving for all of us.
Onto the review…
I am a writer. It has simply been a part of my life since I could weave even the simplest sentences together. Growing up, I was always going to publish a book. My name was going to be on a book. Keelin and books go together like breathing and oxygen.
Well. My name is on a blog for now. While I’m not opposed to the idea of writing a novel this is my writing. I keep an eye on the publishing industry because I was one of those kids who had written countless starts of things. Honestly, part of me wants to be that kid again. Much of the haze has worn off, though. Through my being on Twitter I’ve come to see the publishing industry's reality. It is about money and not much else. Sure enough, the important books get through sometimes - but they are still the important ones that will sell.
Missing Pages drove that reality home with their first episode - The Full Package: The Kaavya Viswanathan Story. (Podlink Here).
Released today, I was able to get an early listen to write this review. This podcast is one that has that classic news feel to it. Separated into chapters across almost an hour-long episode, this episode tells the story of Kaavya Viswanathan- a young girl who, from this podcast, was obviously led astray by the publishing industry.
Bethanne Patrick tells us the story of this ordeal with the Harvard sophomore. A scandal that had the 19-year-old student face to face with Katie Couric on The Today Show. Kaavya had written a book that, upon publication, was found to have striking similarities to other young adult novels rising right next to hers on the best-selling list. Kaavya Viswanathan had been accused of plagiarism. The story, though, is far more than that.
What this podcast presents is fascinating. I think not just for someone who keeps an eye on the publishing industry. Anyone curious about how books go from idea to page will find this interesting. Bethanne Patrick is a publishing insider so she can give specific insight that not many others can. Further, there are deep discussions about plagiarism, insight into (annoying) tools used in high school and college, and an interview with "the plagiarist" herself, Kaavya.
In some ways a true crime “who done it”, we are taken on a familiar feeling path where a case is built and defense is made. This is an easy story to follow, tying in some current events for a full understanding of the elite world we are talking about. The episode winds back on itself nicely so the listener doesn’t have to follow the story precisely moment by moment. I consider this “easy listening”. There were moments I found myself pausing for the sake of delivery, but not enough to make me want to put the podcast down.
The delivery of this podcast gives an early 2000s vibe: and for this episode, it fits. I'm curious to see if it holds up for the rest of the series. As this story took place around 2006 and as it reflects that time, it doesn’t feel "of now". It's not bad: the audio quality is good and combines well with writing that has a light flare for the dramatic. Combine this with news content from the early 2000s, you get a particular voice that takes a moment to get used to. This also might just be what happens if you’re like me. That is - someone for whom the early 2000s was full of the basics of the art of shoelace tying than Katie Couric interviews.
Missing Pages won’t be the podcast for everyone - the polish just isn't as lustrous as others. It’s a good one to try if you want a mystery without death or some insight into the darker sides of the publishing industry. I know it fascinates me, so it will probably fascinate others as well.
If you like the publishing aspect of this check out my Episode Highlight of The Bleeders (review here). If you like the mystery without death aspect, check out my review of Chameleon: Wild Boys (review here).
Thank you for reading today's release day review. Please subscribe to The Monthly Magpie, you'll get monthly updates as to what I've been doing straight to your desired inbox. It also helps me grow this space. If you'd like to see more of my day-to-day nonsense, head on over to Twitter (link here) and Instagram (link here).