Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell three stories about a new literary controversy, only one of which it true.
NPR logo

Bluff The Listener

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/469250109/469314958" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/469250109/469314958" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Our panelists tell three stories about a new literary controversy, only one of which it true.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Bobcat Goldthwait, Roxanne Roberts and Adam Burke. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Yes, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME.

BRAD BAKER: Hello, my name is Brad Baker. I am originally from northern Indiana. I've lived in Atlanta for the last 21 years.

SAGAL: What you do there in Atlanta?

BAKER: I'm a graphic designer, illustrator, art director.

SAGAL: Well, it's nice to have you us, Brad. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Brad's topic?

KURTIS: I prefer hardcover books. They're better to slap you with.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Literature is full of fierce disagreements. Think of last year's debate over Harper Lee's second book or two hobos fighting with knives at a library. This week...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This week, we read about a new literary controversy. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the real one, you'll win our prize - Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

BAKER: I am, indeed.

SAGAL: All right, well, first let's hear from Bobcat Goldthwait.

BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Park Ranger and respected Sasquatch expert ranger Robert Lederman writes coming-of-age stories for tweens similar to "Twilight" series, except set in the world of Bigfoot. His first book "Yeti Or Not" was a...

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: ...Was a hit with the Bigfoot teen-lit crowd and other Bigfoot enthusiasts. But controversy arose when his follow-up "Yeti Or Not: The Awakening..."

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: ...Added a group of wood nymphs and fairies to the saga. Serious Bigfoot researchers are irate. They say that by adding wood nymphs and fairies, Lederman is making the Bigfoot community big look ridiculous.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: "Fairies aren't real," exclaimed Timothy Pearson, a leading squatcher.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: Even if they were wooden nymphs and fairies, Sasquatches would never associate with them. Bigfoot is a very private hominid. We're not asking Lederman to censor himself. We're just asking that his book comes with a warning label explaining that some of it is fiction.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Controversy in the Sasquatch lit community.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Sasquatch yes, wood nymphs, no. Your next story of fiction friction comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: The cat mystery world is hissing about a controversy in its industry - talking cats. What's that you say? Cat mysteries? Indeed, it's a popular genre of detective stories with little sex, violence or swearing...

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: ...With lots and lots of adorable kitties who speak English to humans - or should they? Shirley Rousseau Murphy's "Joe Grey" series features two talking cats who help the town police chief solve cases. Other authors create crime-solving cats who only meow. Quote, "people tend to feel very strongly about it," author Clea Simon told The Wall Street Journal. "Cats that speak - they're an abomination." The Cat Writers' Association - yes, that's a thing, to...

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: ...Is firmly in the talking cat corner, awarding its top honors to books with chatty cats in the tradition of Puss in Boots and The Cat in the Hat. Quote, "so many fans tell me they wish their cats could speak," said Murphy, who sold 1.3 million books. "Sometimes I say, are you sure you want to know? Personally, I know exactly what my cats would say - forget that dead body and feed us. And then we'll lie on top of that newspaper you're trying to read."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Do cats talk? Yes, no, yes, no - a controversy of the cat lit community.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Finally, your last story of a beef in books comes from Adam Burke.

ADAM BURKE: A literary squabble has broken out at this year's annual celebration Putinalia in which artists and writers descend on the outskirts of St. Petersburg to see who can create the best homage to the city's favorite son, Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In the contentious poetry competition, runner-up Anatoly Neskerov has accused winner Edna Kedrov secretly satirizing the nation's doughty leader with her poem "Our Father Is Brave And Beautiful," which contains the lines a herd of bears with gums in their teeth led by strapping Putin, his arms full of salmon. It is...

(LAUGHTER)

BURKE: ...According to Neskerov, (imitating Russian accent) so over-the-top as to be a mockery. Kedrov has in turn accused Neskerov's work of being as over-the-top. "Please, said Kedrov, the poem is about Putin pinning all of the world's heads of state in a judo match." Festival organizers say this year's winner will stand but will impose strict rules on banning satire in the future.

SAGAL: All right, so these are your choices.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: From Bobcat Goldthwait, controversy in the world of Sasquatch literature when one of the favorite authors puts in wood fairies and wood fairies don't exist, from Roxanne Roberts, a controversy in the world of cat literature about whether the cats should talk or not or from Adam Burke, controversy over at the annual Putin literary competition, where two poets accuse each other of secretly satirizing their dear leader. Which of these is the real story of the a literary controversy?

BAKER: Well, number one - I think that's what I'm going for.

SAGAL: So you're going to go with Bobcat's story of Sasquatch lit being roiled by the introduction wood fairies, was it?

BAKER: Yeah.

SAGAL: Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone intimately - and I mean intimately involved with the real story.

CLEA SIMON: There is a split between those who believe that cats should act simply like animals and those of us who believe that cats can talk.

SAGAL: That was Clea Simon. She is the author of four cat-related mystery series - not books, series - and she is a member in good standing of the Cat Writers' Association. So as you heard, Brad, Roxanne Roberts had the real story. You didn't win. You earned a point for Bobcat, which I'm sure he appreciates but which no doubt infuriates Roxanne. She'll have her vengeance later. Thank you so much for playing. Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LADY AND THE TRAMP")

PEGGY LEE: (As Si and Am, singing) We are Siamese, if you please. We are Siamese, if you don't please.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.