Welcome to Night Vale, created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Commonplace Books)

Every once in a while, I come across a story being told in an unconventional way and I inadvertently fall in love with it. A few months ago, it was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. At the moment, “fresh” off a twelve-hour flight, it’s this podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. And yes, I realize I live in a shuttered world where the concept of storytelling via podcasts is novel to me. I’m guessing everybody else has been listening to them since around 200…6? Maybe? I honestly have no idea when podcasts really took off. Was it related to smart phones? Could I look all this up? Probably! But jet lag! So no. I’m just going to assume I’m a minimum of eight years behind the curve on anything that has to do with the internet.

So, podcasts! Yes! I love them, especially since I can’t read on planes, trains, or in automobiles (motion sickness is the devil), and I have begun to get migraines from trying to watch movies on the little television stuck into the seat in front of me. The angle is just wrong and it causes neck strain because I have an abnormally long torso…but I digress. I get bored listening to music after about three hours, and even factoring in napping and boredom snacking, that still leaves about five or six hours I have to fill when traveling this far.

I’ve recently been coming around to audiobooks to try to fill this need, but they’re expensive to buy and nearly impossible to download from the library onto a Mac. (I don’t know why that is, and maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it sends me into a tailspin of rage whenever I try it, so…) Welcome to Night Vale, on the other hand, is free and downloads easily onto my phone for hours of stress-free listening pleasure.  Those two factors alone sold it to me pretty hard, I have to admit, but fortunately, in addition, the content, designed as twice monthly radio broadcasts from a small desert town with dark roots and frequent paranormal happenings, is also delightful.

Readers who have been following me awhile know that I adore humor – dark, silly, vengeful, romantic – I crave it all on a regular basis. In fact, I can forgive a whole boatload of issues with a story or writer if the content has made me laugh. I can even squint my eyes at a podcast and call it enough of a book to review here if it has entertained me thusly. What can I say? I have literary scruples that are very easily bested by a case of the giggles.

Welcome to Night Vale  was the perfect brain candy for this flight. It kept my spirits up over the incredibly long hours, it split into twenty-minute segments so I could doze and listen as fitfully as a I pleased, and it made me into that person who snort-laughs into complete silence (which, if I’m really being honest, I love to do). Is it a book? No. Is it damn fine story-telling, available free of charge to anyone with access to the internet and a pair of headphones? Yes.

I call that a win.

12 thoughts on “Welcome to Night Vale, created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Commonplace Books)

      1. It depends on what you like, but I go for short story podcasts. The ones I listen to in particular are Pseudopod, which is a weekly horror podcast, and Drabblecast, which is a bit of a mix.

  1. The BBC iPlayer radio app is my new favorite friend. You can listen to live radio, older progs and download podcasts. It’s brilliant! I’ve listened to lots of book adaptations etc. I’ve heard about Night Vale on tumblr so may have to give it a look.

  2. I started a short story on a science fiction piece, it tended to go a little longer. Almost finished with it but need some incite. Would you like to read what I have so far, I will be glad to send it to you for a quick read and would love some feed back. Please let me know.

    1. Unfortunately, I’m not taking any pieces for reading right now. My schedule is so busy I can barely keep up with the deadlines I have. Thanks for asking though, and I wish you luck!

  3. I think you were the one that got me commenting on podcasts awhile ago. I’ve never listened to one in my life, but the more I hear them mentioned in reference to the literary world, the more they grab my attention. I think I’ll have to give up and figure it out one of these days :)

    1. Do it! They’re great for when cooking or cleaning, or on long trips, etc because you typically don’t have to give them total attention, but they still entertain. Audio could never replace the written word for me, but it is a great alternative for when I can’t read.

  4. I think Welcome To Night Vale is written with enough effort and care to be considered bookish, or at least literary! I honestly think that if they published a book collecting Cecil’s broadcasts a year or two from now I would buy it right away. My only problem with listening to this podcast is I catch myself laughing uproariously or making weird grimaces while I’m on my lunch break, and people who can’t see my headphones think that the grass and benches must be particularly amusing/horrifying that day. I’m so pleased Night Vale is experiencing a huge boom in popularity right now, because I never want it to end!

    1. Me too! I get the crazy looks whenever I listen to it. When I was cackling on the plane, I think the people around me thought I was demented. They certainly did not make eye contact with me after I started listening!

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