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Five Minute Fiction

Learn everything you need to know about a new book each week without even having to bother reading it. Ex-bookseller, publisher and writer Iain Martin leads you through the terrifying world of contemporary fiction from deep within the imposing Bookface Tower.
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Books. We've all read them, but are they any good?

Mar 8, 2016
38. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Murakami. Running. Minimalist.

Mar 1, 2016
37. Back To Moscow

Shoutouts this week to Robin and Josie's Book Shambles and Backlisted - two other fine book-related podcasts.

I'm discussing Back To Moscow by Guillermo Erades - a drinking and shagging bildungsroman which rapidly became hella-compelling and almost addictive.

The actor Tudor Beamage, meanwhile, delves into the fan-mail in order to validate his existence and learns of a dangerous movement...

Peace, love and books X 

Feb 23, 2016
36. Zurich Cutaway

This week's show was recorded last week when I wasn't here. 

We glance ahead to a few of the big 2016 titles we're looking forward to at 5MF.

Let us know what novels you're eagerly awaiting, at @theiainmartin 

Blame Canada, peace out.

Feb 16, 2016
35. The Case Of the Exploding Loo

I will be away from my desk on a sales trip to Germany and Switzerland until February 18th and won't be checking my emails during this time.

For all urgent enquiries please contact bigboybeamage@thedancingbear.co.uk in my absence.

 

Thanks!

Feb 9, 2016
34. Lily and the Octopus

One of the best books I've ever read, this week, while the hard man's hard man Tudor Beamage takes us into realms of eye-watering horror with this week's The Spoken Word sentence. Business as usual, really. Come in, bookfolk, come in...

Feb 2, 2016
33. Engines of War

We drift back into the Whoniverse this week to examine George Mann's War Doctor novel Engines of War, because I've been very busy moving back to the UK and haven't had time to read a big long grown-up book. Our new Spoken Word performer demonstrates himself to be a man very much of the world, too. Not that I'm jealous.*

 

*I am. A bit. 

Jan 26, 2016
32. Slade House

SPOILER ALERT: I did not warm to David Mitchell's new novella about soul vampires, orisons, operandae, lacunas and related gubbins. On the other hand, coming up in this week's show we have a new presenter of The Spoken Word and a clear victory for Waterstone's in "Algorithm of the Night". So, onwards and upwards. 


Just step over that dead body, there...

 

Jan 19, 2016
31. The Madwoman Upstairs

This week's episode looks at a debut novel from a new writer and, we suspect - Bronte scholar - Catherine Lowell.

 

There are no plugs for my SF Kindle series Winterhill which is having a great week.

 

We also feature a legal stalemate and the author of all our ills, alcoholic actor Bryce D'Abo, cackles and jeers at us, from his new job presenting the Shipping Forecast.

It's a strange world.

Jan 12, 2016
30. The North Water

In something of a shock for a so-called quiet month, we're confronted with one of the strongest and most genuinely exciting books I can remember getting my grubby little protuberances on in quite a long time. To celebrate, our tame robot KAR3N picks a bad time to have a bath and for the second time we compare the recommendation algorithms of Amazon and Waterstones.com. So come and pop my latest nonsense on your iPotato and let's talk about some books. Oh go on. 

Jan 5, 2016
29. Mothering Sunday

Let's kick off 2016 with a really good, short, delicate but excellent novel from the pen of an established master. And I'm not talking about Michelle Gomez.

Following swiftly on from this, the to-read pile is fulsome and furious so it's all hands to the pumps. By which I mean books. Luckily KAR3N is here to help with our free audiobook segment The Spoken Word, and in the background there's the soothing sounds of Radio Four. 

What's the worst that could happen?

Dec 29, 2015
28. Review Show 2015

Uploaded at the quite nice Dems tearooms in Canterbury, it's the final 5MF of 2015 so we look back at some of the books that have rocked my world, recycle a quite popular sketch from an earlier show, unveil my personal best book of 2015, and catch up with former audiobook performer (and prick) Bryce D'Abo. 

Dec 22, 2015
27. American Housewife

This week's 5MF was recorded in Southwark, London, and is being beamed up into the nethersphere from Colchester, setting for my as-yet-unwritten historical magical-realism tale CAMVLODVNVM. It's Christmas week, so everyone's silver bells are comprehensively a-jingle, except in my podcast where is is resolutely business very much as usual. This week we're curling up with a wonderful collection of short stories which combine comedic observation with psychological horror to examine and excavate the empty littleness of the life of the American Housewife. Karen the robot has this week's free sentence from our audiobook giveaway for you too, so it really is business as usual. But not next week. Next week is going to be different. Oh yes. 

Dec 15, 2015
26. Number Eleven

Swigging heartily from my Johnny Rockets mug, I'm kicking back and relaxing in the stress-free bliss of my newly empty studio. It's time therefore to tell you about what I've been reading this week, which is the frankly amazing novel Number Eleven by Jonathan Coe. And it is awesome. Come and listen. Along the way there's a tiny plug for a Kindle-only science fiction series, and we get to meet a giant robot who loves books. You don't get THAT on Serial.

Dec 8, 2015
25. The Wisdom of Crocodiles

Another all-time favourite novel gets its chance to wriggle at you seductively and pout in a frankly vampish manner while you peruse it lustfully. Do you feel ashamed? You should. This week we're looking at the debut novel from Paul Hoffman, one of my favouritest books ever. What else is new? Well, in an attempt to see if anyone ever reads these little descriptions, I'm offering a free drink to the first person to tweet me @theiainmartin to claim it (terms and conditions apply) and there's a surprise in store for the actor Bryce D'abo who is about to feel the cold, wet end of EU Employment Law's love-truncheon. Welcome in books, y'all.

Dec 1, 2015
24. Middlesex

In a terrible turn of events, Bryce D'Abo (he played a milkman in Morse in about 1993) has staged a coup d'etat and taken over the Five Minute Fiction studio. What audio horrors await? God let's hope he doesn't start all that Gilbert & Sullivan nonsense. Luckily there's a bit of book chat too as we look back at one of the genuine classics of the 21st Century.

Nov 24, 2015
23. American Psycho

There's a newfound sense of peace and amity in the Five Minute Fiction studio as Bryce D'Abo seems to be behaving himself, and our new Creative Writing course headed up by Keef Richards from the Strolling Bones is proving to be a provocative and exciting project. So this week we dust off an old paperback and curl up with a contemporary masterpiece of lady-chopping and drug-hoovering, American Psycho. Is it more than just a one-note joke? Is it deep and meaningful? Let us consider it, coldly, as men and women of science.

Nov 17, 2015
22. Four Blind Mice

In an attempt to ascertain just how badly the memory cheats, this week I'm trying to remember as much as I can about one of my least-favourite reads - and then I pause the tape, do a bit of research, and then let you know how wide of the mark my recall was. This week, then, there are more spoilers than usual, but since it's about Four Blind Mice I honestly don't think any of you will care. Or not too much. Meanwhile Bryce D'Abo looks pretty impregnable and has taken full control of The Spoken Word, and we launch our Creative Writing Course, lead by the autobiographer, philosopher and guitarist Keith Richards. No, really. No, really.

Nov 10, 2015
21. Dependence Day

This week I'm looking at another personal favourite novel, 1994's Dependence Day by the comedian turned novelist Robert Newman - who is currently back on Radio Four with his new show Robert Newman's Entirely Accurate Encyclopaedia of Evolution. Dependence Day is a straightforward yet elegant debut suffused with exceptional prose and a wonderful confidence, and I'm baffled as to why it's out of print. You can't even get an ebook, which is just bizarre. But you can track it down on Ebay and Amazon Marketplace so you definitely should. Do it now. And while you're at it, get his other books too. Meanwhile we also talk books with Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. No, really. No, really.

Nov 3, 2015
20. Toast On Toast

This week we're reviewing the shameless TV tie-in comedy pretend autobiography Toast On Toast (showing here) in a slight break from all the serious books under discussion. You'll remember how we usually look at heavyweight literature like Remembrance of the Daleks? Well the truth is I'm reading a big clever literary novel right now but it's going to take me a while, and just sometimes I need something with a quick turnaround. So yes. Anyway. If you've never watched Toast of London (this show here) you probably won't read this book but if you have, you'll know exactly what we're in for. What's amazing is that I got through the whole episode without saying "Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango."

Oct 27, 2015
19. Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

A slender, delicate tale of grief and not-entirely unwelcome corvid intruders provides this week's subject matter, which keeps your host pre-occupied enough not to notice that maybe, just maybe, something terrible is going to happen... Welcome, readers.

Oct 20, 2015
18. The Portable Veblen

Please arrive promptly for the start of the informal soiree when crisps will be served. There will then be a bit of talking about a book. Then dancing. You know the form. The cause of celebration this week is the discovery of one of 2016's finest and most lovely novels, by Elizabeth McKenzie. It's the best thing I've read in yonks. 

Oct 13, 2015
17. The Information

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and desperate times cost you desperate treasures.

A treasure for you all here is that, because I'm away in Frankfurt this week, I have pre-recorded a special show all about one of my favourite novels: The Information by Martin Amis. Do not expect anything but wide-eyed fanboy advocacy here. 

Why do I love this novel so much? What's the cut of its jib? What, in a nutshell, is the plot? And what did I say to the author about it when I met him?

What else? Captive think-worm Richard Dawkins says something profound and the pissed old ham in studio 2 archly performs another sentence of our FREE AUDIOBOOK. 

So; a bumper show for you here. I hope you enjoy it. Tell me if so!

@theiainmartin

Oct 6, 2015

As a treat for you all, this week I'm reaching back onto the endless bookshelf of yesteryear and plucking out my favourite Doctor Who book, dusting it off and presenting it for your delectation. I know some of you literary types will turn your noses up, but if you're a Doctor Who fan you'll either love this already or you soon will. The reason? Doctor Who books got me reading. And I'm not alone in that. Also I've just been commissioned to write an essay for a book about the Doctor Who books from Target. Thirdly I haven't finished this week's novel but I did have time for what is an excellent audiobook. Fourthly Ben Aaronovitch is now better known as the author of a magical crime series which begins with Rivers of London and they are ace.

Morrissey appears to have disappeared from the studio in the same week that Dawkins seems to have doubled in size. Bryce D'abo is still knocking about but is throwing shade all over our Spoken Word feature. Hopefully the drunken old sod will be gone for next week's episode.

Sep 29, 2015
15. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year

What a week it's been, with one of our 80's pop icons having turned in a controversial novel replete with amusingly-written sex, and everyone's going crazy about this. Well, you have to give these people some right to reply, don't you? I have also been reading the final novel from Sue Townsend. The book came out in 2012 but I haven't felt like reaching 'the end' with Sue up to now. Is it a fitting farewell from the writer who gave the world Adrian Mole? Meanwhile it's lawyers at dawn with Bryce D'Abo which makes for a distinctly frosty Spoken Word section this week. 

Sep 22, 2015
14. The Girl In the Spider's Web

A record-breaking longest show ever this week, despite legal wranglings over the continued involvement of our spoken word actor Bryce D'Abo meaning there is no new sentence this week (but there is something even betterer instead.)

Dawkins seems pretty forlorn too, so it's left to me to carry the show this week, which I attempt to do by discussing the new Salander/Blomkvist novel by ghost-writer and novelist David Lagercrantz. 

Strap yourselves in and hose yourselves down. It's going to be a bumpy ride. On the way we get side-tracked by the mucky business of other authors continuing other people's franchises, and how much this idea scares me now that Sue Townsend is no longer with us.

Incidentally, I don't know if you've seen this story in the papers, but DAVID CAMERON PUT IT IN A DEAD PIG'S FACE.

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