The Podcasters

The Podcasts

59

Litbits & Failure

Failure! You know it. We know it. Literature knows it. Think Percy Bysshe Shelley. Think Geoff Dyer. Think Thomas Chatterton. Think DBC Pierre. Think George Gissing. Think Laurence Sterne. Think John Milton—as sports people Stateside say— “fumbling the ball”. Curious phrase! And then, after all that, think Jane Austen, eating ice-cream with a wooden spoon, in bed on a Tuesday afternoon, listening to FiveLive. Actually that sounds rather nice. Pass the tutti frutti, Cassandra!

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58

Litbits & Reviews

Reviews! That’s right: REVIEWS. I’ve said it twice now so it should be clear. But what do we mean? Well, centrally, this: what happens when Othello and Amazon Prime collide? How do online reviewers respond to the canon? And how does this, our present age, relate to the long history of judging books? James “Book Reviewer” Kidd (left) and Adam “Dabbler in said Art” Smyth (left, hand extended) gather once more to think about literary reputations, readers, and books in the world. HOW DO WE TALK ABOUT BOOKS IN THIS OUR FALLEN AGE? Pip pip and pass the jolly snuff.

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57

Litbits & Money

Cash! Money! Greenbacks! Lucre! You know what we’re talking about. It’s Adam “99 pence” Smyth and James “3 for 2” Kidd, joined by wizard financial journalist Emma Simon to talk literature and money (NB: not an actual wizard). Value? Worth? Why not! 50 cent. Jeffrey Archer. Patricia Cornwall. TS Eliot. Samuel Pepys. Dickens. James Patterson. Shakespeare. After all, wasn’t it Erasmus who said, ‘Dirty cash / I want you / Dirty cash / I need you, oh’?

First broadcast on Resonance FM in May 2015.

Emma Simon is an award-winning consumer journalist with 18 years’ experience of writing about money, property, travel and business. She writes for a number of national newspapers, including the Sunday Times, the Guardian and the Mail on Sunday. You can follow Emma’s musing on poetry and finance on Twitter—@SimpleSimonEmma.

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56

Litbits & Celebration

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth—frolicsome to the max—consider how literature does celebration. Are we all too down with ambivalence to have a darn good time? So: Dickens does Christmas. Milton does Shakespeare. Carver does vodka. Gerard Manley Hopkins does the night. Frank O’Hara does love. And Kool and the Gang does … well, joyful tat-pop, I suppose. (Yaa-HOO!) Now pick up that loose pom pom—that one, over there, the one that looks like a weird cat—and join the literary party.

[first broadcast on Resonance FM in December 2015.]

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55

Literature & Driving

Driving! Rain? Golf clubs? No! We mean cars! That’s right: literature and driving. George Herbert in a Saab, the windows down. Adam “failed driving test due to causing a crash” Smyth & James “cannot drive” Kidd clamber in a clapped-out old Honda Civic and motor along to Jack Kerouac, Michel Faber, J.G. Ballard, Iris Murdoch, Raymond Carver, and more. Is reading a novel like driving a car? Is it? IS IT?

First broadcast on Resonance FM in October 2015

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54

Litbits and Hamlet

Hamlet? Hamlet! Why on earth not. In which James ‘Ophelia’ Kidd and Adam ‘Second Servant’ Smyth are joined by Professor Emma Smith of Oxford University. THEN—wait for it—dressed in black cloaks—they rush to the very core of the very centre of the very heart of the quintessence of the canon, and talk English literature’s biggest cheese. And we don’t mean Jeffrey Archer! Seriously, we don’t.

Why does the drum come hither? Listen on and find out, posters.

Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford University. She works on early modern drama and her most recent book is Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (2015).

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53

Litbits & the Cold

It’s freezing! But we go on, stumbling, rubbing our hands, teeth chattering, towards the distant dim glow of … LITERATURE AND THE COLD! How do writers represent below zero? What does the cold mean, in novels and poems? James Kidd and Adam Smyth ponder Petrarch, Thomas Wyatt, Keith Richards, Keats, Christina Rossetti, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Captain Scott, Charles Dickens, and more. Wrap up warm, people (we suggest the Litbits-branded deep tog “hammock towel”).

[First broadcast in December 2015 on Resonance FM.]

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52

Litbits & Beginnings

To start! Or not? Perhaps we should. So pull up a hammock, crack open a hot bottle of vodka jelly, and join podders James Kidd and Adam Smyth as they muse on origins. How do books begin? Where do books begin? What are the great openings in literature? Featuring Saul Bellow, Christopher Isherwood, John Donne, Margaret Atwood, and John Milton. You want more? Well have a warm slice of Samuel Beckett and some sprinklings of Henry James and Thomas Hardy and Laurence Sterne. Pip pip!

[first broadcast on Resonance FM in September 2015

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51

Literature & The Night

The night! To sleep? Or to cavort? Ah, the agony of choice. Adam Smyth and James Kidd, finding themselves standing in a cold rural field amid an inky night, fumble onwards with fellow nocturnal stalkers Dylan Thomas, Margaret Atwood, John Milton, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, WH Auden, and Samuel Pepys. Plus a dash of 4.17am talk radio.

Bring a lantern: it’s dark out here. [first broadcast on Resonance FM in October 2015]

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50

Literature & Connection

In which Adam “I think I’ve missed” Smyth and James “the 10.34 to Chertsey” Kidd are joined by Dr Laurence Scott to talk about things aligning, and things just missing. Do we read to be understood? Is everyone alone? Does literature console, or push us away? How has the digital era changed what it means to be on the same wavelength as someone? What is a wavelength, anyway? And could Craigslist teach EM Forster a thing or two about ‘only connect’? We talk Ben Lerner, Stephen Spender, Stefan Zweig, Fry and Laurie, and more.

Ships in the night. What larks! [first broadcast on Resonance FM in November 2015]

Laurence Scott is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and is the author of the award-winning The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World (2015). His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, the Financial Times and the London Review of Books, among other publications. In 2011 he was named a ‘New Generation Thinker’ by the Arts and Humanities Council and the BBC. In 2014 he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize. He lives in London.

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48

Lit Bitlette ... Giving Up Books

In which James ‘Slow Reader’ Kidd, and Adam ‘Easily Distracted and Also Slow Reader’ Smyth, discuss the merits and perils of abandoning books. Too long? Too boring? Too difficult? And we haven’t even started talking about the books yet! Of course we’re joking. Pull up a hammock, slip off your pumps, and start listening—you can potter off to “make a cup of tea” after a couple of minutes. No one need know.

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47

Literature & Difficutly

In which James ‘Tricky’ Kidd and Adam ‘Tricky’ Smyth talk hard poems, hard novels, hard plays, for no hard cash. Why do we need literary works that we can’t understand? Join the pod as it orbits a galaxy of complexity and struggle featuring Geoffrey Hill, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, and James Patterson. That’s right: James Patterson. YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THE PATTERSON?

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46

Literature & Destruction

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by bibliophile and jaunty-walker Gill Partington (left) to talk burning, eating, and cutting. What happens to a book when it is licked by flames? Can we literally consume fictions? And is that a pair of blades in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? Complete with practical demonstrations and that ‘outdoorsy’ feel we know will listeners like—and all to celebrate the publication of this little beauty. What ho!

Gill Partington is an academic and writer working in the field of modern and contemporary literature and culture, with a particular focus on the materialities and technologies of writing. She’s written for—among other places—Radical Philosophy and the London Review of Books, is completing a book on internet conspiracy theories.

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45

Literature & Holidays

Holidays! And Literature! In which we go back in time to September 2013, when “Adam” and “James” meet in a pub to commiserate about the end of their vacations. Are holidays a good thing? Why are they over so quickly? Mark Twain speaks through Tom Sawyer. Andrew Marvell gets in that holiday spirit. Stanley Middleton describes a wet weekend in the pub. Bakhtin opens his mouth and other orifices. Madonna leads us in a rousing 80s singalong. Don your shorts, and short your dons (that doesn’t mean anything—ed.), and join us. The water’s lovely and damp. (First broadcast on Resonance FM in September 2014.)

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44

Literature and Exhaustion

You’re looking tired. Knackered, in fact. Us too. So what better than LITERATURE AND EXHAUSTION? Well obviously a holiday would be better but we can’t offer you that. What we can offer you is this: 29 minutes 46 seconds of drowsy musings on authors – Beckett, Woolf, Shakespeare, Tennyson – writing about being tired. If that isn’t better than two weeks on the beach, then my name’s Hattie Jacques. Download, relax, slumber, and before you know it, it’ll be February. Yours, Hattie.

(First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

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43

Litbits and Banned Books

In which Adam “Smyth” Smyth and James “Smyth” Kidd discuss literary censorship. Explosive, non? Just what is Banned Books Week? Why are books so dangerous? In the e-book age, is censorship a thing of the past? Why is Captain Underpants the most dangerous literary character in America? Should some books be banned for crime against literature? These questions, and more. Hang on, podders. (First broadcast on Resonance FM on October 1st, 2013).

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42

Litbits and Procrastination

In which tardy Adam Smyth and sloth-like James Kidd muse—FINALLY!—on the business of putting things off. They dance an intimate dance with deferral and trip gingerly to delay’s sweet hum.

Mark Twain. Geoff Dyer. Raymond Chandler. Kafka’s four hour-long naps. T.S. Eliot’s bank job. Thomas Bernhard. Shakespeare’s over-hastiness. Chaucer’s oxon. And more. But before you do that: pair those socks, listeners!

(First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

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41

Litbits and Heroines

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by bestselling writer Samantha Ellis to talk reading books and rereading books and falling in love with characters and living by what by read. Cathy! Cathy! CATHY!

Samantha Ellis is the author of How To Be A Heroine, published by Chatto & Windus. She is also a playwright, and her play, Anatomical Venus, will be produced by Goat and Monkey Theatre in October 2014. You can read more about Samantha here.

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40

Litbits at the Oscars

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth—both dressed to the nines (as ever)—are joined by film wiz Alex von Tunzelmann to talk Hollywood’s big night. The politics. The money. And Woody Allen. Who will win? Who shouldn’t win? (Tom Hanks, obviously). And what would Ben Jonson say if he accepted a posthumous award for William Shakespeare for best hairdressing? These, and other urgent questions. Join us on the red carpet: there’s plenty of room.

Alex von Tunzelmann is the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007), and Red Heat. Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean (2011). She writes the ‘Reel History’ column for The Guardian, on popular films and historical accuracy. For Alex’s website, click here.

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38

Literature and portraits

In which Adam Smyth (in Blue Period) and James Kidd (Late Cubist) are joined by novelist Lynn Shepherd to mull over the pen and the brush. How are novels like portraits? How have portraits helped create a novelist’s image? Why do we care which portrait goes on a £10 note? And how does a portrait of Mr Darcy help woo Elizabeth Bennet? William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Frank O’Hara – all that while Lit Bits undrape, recline, and sit for their own portrait.

Lynn Shepherd is the author of (among other titles) Murder at Mansfield Park, The Solitary House, and—just out—A Treacherous Likeness (A Fatal Likeness in the US). You can read more about Lynn here.

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37

Literature and Law

In which James Kidd (prisoner number 768563457) and Adam Smyth (parole) are joined by barrister Christina Michalos. We tug our wigs, gather our gowns, and muse on twitter and defamation; literary representations of lawyers; the presence of legal thinking in literature; and ask why so many novelists are former lawyers. Shakespeare and Grisham and more. (First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Christina is a barrister at 5rb chambers. She a leading specialist in copyright, trade mark, intellectual property and privacy, especially in terms of the internet and social networking sites. She is the author of The Law of Photography and Digital Images (Sweet & Maxwell, 2004).

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36

Literature & Rooms

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth explore ROOMS with expert guide Alexandra Goddard. Can literature help us imagine historical interior designs? Was Edith Wharton the Laurence Llewellyn Bowen of her day? What does a room tell us about character? Are books the new wallpaper?

Plump those pillows. Chuck out those Ikea bookshelves. Join us as Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, John Donne and Emily Bronte get their Lit Bits Feng Shui on.

Goddard gets interior, Kidd is characterful, Smyth is Satanic.

Key texts: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton; Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room; John Milton’s Paradise Lost; Edith Wharton’s Decoration of Houses.

Alexandra Goddard is a Curator at the Geffrye Museum.

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35

Literature & Translation

Hello there! You’re looking well. Apart from the obvious. But I’m sure that can be—anyway. It’s LitBits! In which - this week—James ‘Kidd’ Kidd and Adam ‘Kidd’ Smyth are joined by Dr Dennis Duncan to muse over literature and translation. What is translation? What happens when Shakespeare’s To be or not to be’ turns Japanese? Can Finnegans Wake be written in Basic English – and what has this to do with Sex and the City? Join our polyglot podders as they tussle with Dan Brown, John Keats, Aphex Twin, Lydia Davis, Stieg Larsson, Humpty Dumpty and Die Hard (‘where are my detonators?’). [First broadcast on Resonance FM.]

Dennis Duncan is a Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. He’s currently writing a book about indexes. It’s not clear whether this book will itself has an index.

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34

Literature & Hair

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by historian Alex von Tunzelmann to talk HAIR. Which writers had great hair? Has hair inspired great writing? What does hair symbolise? And is hair-dressing an art? Alexander Pope, Rapunzel, Vidal Sassoon, Little Women and no doubt Melvyn Bragg. Hair are our radio aerials.

Alex von Tunzelmann is the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007), and Red Heat. Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean (2011). She writes the ‘Reel History’ column for The Guardian, on popular films and historical accuracy. For Alex’s website, click here.

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33

Literature & Sex Scenes

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd (both fully draped for almost the entire broadcast) are joined by Jonathan Beckman. What makes a good – or bad – sex scene? Are modern authors more bashful than their ancient counterparts? Lit Bits rises to the occasion, with Lee Child, Rowan Somerville, John Donne, Fanny Hill, Jane Austen and Gustav Flaubert. Close the curtains. Put the kids to bed. Get out the Barry White and join Lit Bits for a special late night edition. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.) Listeners of a sensitive disposition should be warned: this podcast contains strong sexual language, references to explicit body parts, gratuitous naughtiness, allusions to group intercourse, granny eroticism and some allusions to Andrew Motion.

Jonathan Beckman is a Senior Editor at the Literary Review, and organiser of the Review’s annual, and infamous, Bad Sex Awards.

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32

Literature & Blurbs

‘It was the loneliest place on earth ...’ In which ingénues James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined by savvy advertising wizard Jonathan Thake to talk puffs and blurbs and the whole damn business of selling books. It’s literature in the marketplace. It’s Keats down Walworth Market. It’s Jane Austen driving a cab. Think Stephen King. Think Shakespeare. Think Patricia Cornwall. Now stop thinking about all those people and listen. Plus: in our version of 3-for-2, this pod comes with a free bonus song from US hipsters ‘Bring it to Bear.’ Enjoy podders! (First broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Jonathan Thake is a television writer. His first comedy series, The Persuasionists, told the story of a fictional advertising agency, and premiered on BBC2 in 2010. Jonathan also works in advertising, and is best known for the controversial ‘slag of all snacks’ campaign for Pot Noodle.

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31

Literature & Laughter

30 minutes of tittering pod, in which Adam Smyth and James Kidd dance a merry waltz around the connections between literature and laughter. What is laughter? What does it mean? How do we read it? When is it wrong to chuckle? Do we really honestly laugh at novels? Why do we look like dogs when we guffaw? And just what has this all got to do with James Kidd and a thousand New York fire-flies? Answers to almost all of these teasers are contained within. Click, relax, unwind, recline, enjoy. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.)

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30

Literature and Impersonation

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by man of letters – and voices—Dr Joe Brooker, to discuss authors sounding like other authors. James Joyce. Mike Yarwood. Martin Amis. Keats. Shakespeare. And featuring what is almost certainly a radio first: Roy Hodgson (or ‘Roy Hodgson’) reading movingly from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. (Originally broadcast on Resonance FM.)

Joe Brooker teaches English literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he works on modern and contemporary literature and culture. He has written on the work of James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, and his latest book is Literature of the 1980s: After the Watershed (Edinburgh University Press, 2010).

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29

Literature and Error

In which Adam Smyth and a train-delayed—but eventually present—James Kidd are joined by poet Liane Strauss to discuss mistakes, slips, wanderings, and things not quite going to plan. A dash of Shakespeare; a shot of Keats; a half-pint tumbler of Wallace Stevens; and a generous lacing of Phil “Errare” Larkin.

Like knights errant, but in Harris tweed.

Duration: 55.24

Liane Strauss is the author of Leaving Eden (Salt Publishing, 2010) and Frankie, Alfredo, (Donut Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals in the US and the UK, including The Hudson Review, The Georgia Review, Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and Magma. She teaches literature and creative writing at Birkbeck College, The Poetry School and The City Literary Institute.

You can read more about Liane here.

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28

Lit Bitlette ... Snow

In which James Kidd, manfully solo, and solely manful, wheezes, sighs, huffs, puffs and chuffs his way up a mountain in upstate New York towards Olana, home of Hudson Valley School painter Frederick Church. Between the wheezes, Kidd ponders snow, getting cold feet (literally), Christina Rossetti, Bing Crosby and why snow falls in blankets. In between groans, he also meditates on the eerie sensation of trudging through a landscape doing a fine impersonation of a life-sized painting. Art and life, life and art, with real sound effects.

Dig that heavy breathing (Kidd not Church).

Duration: 10.24.

Altogether now: snow, snow, snow, snow - SNOW!

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27

Lit Bitlette ... Beards!

Live from the Southampton Arms. Beards! And literature! Together at last! Barbed comments for your French punsters. What is the difference between ‘Old’ Beard and ‘New’ Beard? Can beards talk? Are beards like texts. And what happens to Lit Bits podcasters when you add a pint of ale, bake for 25 minutes and leave to stand on a chilly night.

A promenading 8 minutes on the most hairy of texts. Think Lytton Strachey. Think God. Think hipsters in North London pubs. Clean-shaven comments by Adam ‘Moustache’ Smyth and James ‘Goatee’ Kid(d).

Duration: 7.53.

In Hampstead, no one can hear you shave.

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26

Lit Bits Live @ London Library Stacks

In which James Kidd and Adam Smyth, taking time out from composing their libretti, wander lonely as two clouds and ruin the hushed atmos of the London Library stacks. Finding themselves live and on air, they peruse the S.Agriculture shelfmark. Musings follow—on manure, Michael Gove, Fred Kitchen, and the need for books we’ll never read. Join in and join those dots. Gove and manure? Surely some mistake.

Stamp on withdrawal. Fines for late returns.

Duration: 9.50

In the London Library, no one can hear you. Full stop.

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25

Waiting for Lit Bits - Live in Oxford

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd indulge in a little bit, or a Lit Bitlette, of waiting. For buses. Trains. Love. Godot. Guffman. That sort of thing. Live from Oxford Train Station, our intrepid pair feel the glamour of Ginsters pies, coffee heated by a nuclear reactor.

But what does this have to do with literature (we hear you cry)? Quite a lot, we find, as James Kidd and Adam Smyth loiter in endless expecting of the 4.23 to Paddington. 7 minutes on deferred pleasures, Beckett, narrative, hot chocolate, and Brazil.

Lit Bits in - wait for it - legendary form.

Duration: 7.24

We can't go on. But we don't half go on.

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24

Lit Bitlette ... Shopping Malls

In which James Kidd, flying solo so to speak, blows Lit Bits’ savings in a shopping mall in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York. Among his musings are questions like: why is Deal No Deal such a big, er, deal? Why are there no clocks in malls? Why are there so many guns in malls? What is a buttock massager? And if a tree falls in a shopping mall, has it had a narrow escape?

Odiferous.

Duration: 5.37

Download 2 pods. Get one for £4.99.

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23

Alcohol

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd muse of the links between grape and pen, grain and page. Women, wine, snuff and nonsense all imbibed (hic and ibid). Live from a curry house in north London, our podsters bravely practice what they preach. Do not adjust your set. The pod is not playing at half-speed in homage to John Peel. It is simply that Smyth and Kidd cannot take their ale.

Drink up.

Duration: 24.01

Time gentlemen. Please?

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22

What is LitBits?

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd—live from London—empty a a full post bag that is filled with a single question. What is Lit Bits?

The curt answer is: A Literary Podcast spiced with added guests like Giles Milton, Hallie Rubenhold, Alex von Tunzelmann, the Doctors Joe Brooker and Dinah Roe, not to mention the Right Reverend James Mottram.

The meandering response takes in a Mr Romney of Massachusetts, a Mr Paul Daniels of the Magic Circle, and plunges us into the nightmarish swamp Adam Smyth’s dream imaginings. Be ye afraid. Be very afraid.

A five-minute shot glass of literary speculation. Who wouldn’t take a sip?

Duration: 4.59

Lit Bits? C'est nous.

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21

Lit Bitlette ... Flying

It’s chocks away as James Kidd and Adam Smyth are joined, for five high-altitude minutes, by Alex von Tunzelmann and Hallie Rubenhold, to talk planes and books. Just what do you read during a flight? Why is airplane food so terrible? Why does every movie seem to star Seth Rogan? And who exactly is Seth Rogan. Reading, writing and all manner of zipless unmentionables.

Fasten your seatbelts. Put out that cigarette. Don’t sit near Gerard Depardieu.

Duration: 5.15

Emergency exits can be found there and there...

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20

Lit Bits Walking - Live in London

Walking! That’s right. Walking!

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd tumble out of the French House pub in Soho, stretch their legs, and more besides. With the heaven’s opening, and the pubs closing, our intrepid pair retire ‘neath the shady bow of an umbrella and wander Soho in search of links between literature and perambulation. Fellow strollers include Paul Auster, Ben Jonson, and Philip Sidney.

Wander and wonder under discussion.

Duration: 16.05

Fellas with umbrellas.

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19

Lit Bitlette ... New Year Resolutions

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd forget old acquaintance in a Soho doorway as a December deluge rains on their parade. Undaunted, our intrepid podders make their new year resolutions. More exercise, less saturated fat, and a diet of Jeffrey Archer, EL James and Jon Bon Jovi’s epic poem about a strip club.

For the sake of auld lang syne. Whatever that means.

Duration: 4.19

Happy New Year everyone.

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18

Lit Bits on Truth

In which Litbits – never afraid to tackle the big issues – dons its metaphysical (and metaphorical) wig, takes a deep breath, and plunges into TRUTH in films and books. Joined by historical whizzes Alex von Tunzelmann and Hallie Rubenhold, the pod wrestles with JFK; Margaret Thatcher; Christian Bale; Keats; The French Revolution; T.S. Eliot; Shakespeare; a couple of llamas; and dear old Mel Gibson.

Questions that are pondered. Why did no one realise America won the Trojan War? Can Leonardo di Caprio play anyone not born in the 21st century? And if history is written by winners, then little wonder no one has asked Sven Goran Erikkson to direct a movie.

Hallie Rubenhold is a novelist and historian. She is the author of The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the extraordinary story of Harris’ List (2005), which was adapted for TV on BBC4; Lady Worsley’s Whim; An Eighteenth Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce (2008); and Mistress of My Fate; The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot (2011). For more of Hallie, point your little cursor here.

Alex von Tunzelmann is the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007), and Red Heat. Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean (2011). She writes the ‘Reel History’ column for The Guardian, on popular films and historical accuracy. For Alex’s website, click here.

Duration: 44.40

Nothing but the...

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17

Lit Bitlette ... Pubs

Pubs! Taverns! Bars! Beginning a seemingly inexhaustible fascination with recording nonsense in boozers, our intrepid pod duo battle their way out of the The Lord John Russell to chat about Joyce and Chaucer. In the process, they struggle to describe Ulysses’ multi-vocal pub conversations, and scratch their heads about just how many whiskey’s Dylan Thomas downed before descending that great beer cellar in the basement.

Lit Bits also experiences its first brush with fame, as three not especially wise men stare us out during the pod. Pretty scary.

Duration: 5.12

Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider.

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16

Lit Bitlette ... Auden

In which are podders, Adam Smyth and James Kidd, putting their feet up after another exhausting 45 minutes of sitting on a chair and talking nonsense, are ambushed by Dinah Roe with a copy of W.H. Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’. How will they fare in this on-the-spot close reading? It’s literary criticism, in the nude. Those of a sensitive literary critical disposition might want to look away…now.

Listen out for the sound of pouring wine. And possibly Wystan H turning in his grave.

Duration: 8.01

About suffering Lit Bits was often wrong. But only epistemologically.

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15

Lit Bitlette Live @ London Library ... Fear

Lit Bits ascends to a hidden portal in the London Library and finds not Thetans, but a creepily broken desk. Is this where recalcitrant members go to die? Is this what happens if you write in pen in the margin of page 423 of that Lord Byron biography? Is this what happens if you make stains on the red carpet of the reading room?

Adam and James gird their loins, brace their mainsail, and buckle their swashes to confront - FEAR. What books make you scream? MR James, Jeffrey Archer, and a terrifying revelation neath the undercrofting.

But what’s that noise on the stairs?

Duration: 8.15

Be ye afeared. Be ye verry afeared. Prithee.

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14

Lit Bitlette ... Computers 2.0

Greetings from the future, pod listeners. Admire our foil suits and chrome helmets. Our touch-screen soap dispensers. Stand well back as James Kidd plugs in, turns on and downloads a hi-tech second mini-pod on literature and computers. Think Keats. Think computer speech software. Think Radiohead. Think Nicholas Roe. Just think, listeners. Just think.

Astronaut food not included.

Duration: 6.47.

Fitter, happier and more deductive

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13

Lit Bits on Art

Art! In which our intrepid podsters Kidd and Smyth are joined by Dinah Roe and, freshly saddled, bound off in pursuit of enlightenment on the verbal and the visual. Are poems like paintings? Are frames like paratexts? How large was William Morris’ beard? And just who is Andrew Motion? Frank O’Hara is read the riot act, or at least just read. How do texts interact with images, and vice versa.

Dinah Roe teaches nineteenth-century literature at Oxford Brookes University. She is the author of The Rossettis In Wonderland: A Victorian Family History (2011) and Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination . She has edited two Penguin Classics: Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems and The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin. For more of Dinah, and to read her blog Pre-Raphaelites in the City, click here.

Duration: 38.41

Can you see what it is yet?

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9

Lit Bits on Pop Music

As heard on Resonance FM, Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by man of song Paul Myerscough. After an opening entanglement with Usher’s Climax, the podsters tap their feet to a merry farrago of (among others) Paul Morley—Kylie Minogue—Christopher Ricks—Ulysses—Bob Dylan—Keats—Shakespeare—and perhaps the greatest of them all, Andrew Ridgeley.

Hear the worst cover of Run DMC - ever (now that’s what I call rubbish). Thrill to the pointiillist synthesiser. And gasp as someone admits to their love for Bon Jovi and Natasha Bedingfield. The only question is: who?

Dancing shoes? We think so.

Paul Myerscough is a Senior Editor at the London Review of Books.

Duration: 43.58.

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8

Lit Bitlette ... Knights

For those of you who like your Lit Bits short and sweet, here’s the first of our mini Lit Bits—a Lit Bitlette—or micro-pod—or petit podule—featuring 5 golden minutes of James Kidd, Esq., riding solo, and musing—admittedly between sizeable swigs—on literature and knights. Saddle up, Sir Gawain. This Pod Lite is dedicated to David Knight, Esq, who is responsible for designing the Lit Bits website. For further information about Mr Knight, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms, contact us at our email or Twitter page. Mr Knight: Lit Bits salutes you. 

Duration: 4.51

Arise Sir Podcast

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7

Lit Bits on History

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by best-selling novelist and antiquarian maestro Giles Milton. Our fearless musers dance a pas de deux with Clio and her many incarnations—viz. the writing of history—the features thereof—fiction and narrative— character in the archives—almanacs and chronologies—that friend of Clio, Jay-Z—Devon—Andrew Motion, etc.

Giles Milton is the author of many books, including Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How One Man’s Courage Changed the Course of History, and White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa’s One Million European Slaves. You can get more of Giles Milton by clicking here.

Duration: 32.54

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6

Lit Bits on Architecture

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by Steve Rose Esq., Guardian critic and man of buildings. Some 40 minutes of musings on books and buildings—the links and differences—with some matters concerning the relationship between reading a book and walking a city. The lusty symbolism of bricks—unfinished designs—how to enter a building. A middle section containing two questions in very different styles—an extraordinary scene with Mr Andrew Motion—and the pleasant history then draws to a conclusion. Regrets are few as the fellows depart for an ordinary or inn.

Duration: 41.31

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5

Lit Bits on Advertising

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by advertising wiz, comedy writer, and all-round chap-about-town Jonathan Thake. Our trusty podders saddle their steeds and engage in a veritable canter through the vast wild fields of literature and advertising. Among other oddities they encounter on their questing voyage, are Ben Jonson, Pot Noodle, American Psycho, Heineken, and Andrew Motion. Profit and delight are assured.

Duration: 38.05

Jonathan Thake is a television writer. His first comedy series, The Persuasionists, told the story of a fictional advertising agency, and premiered on BBC2 in 2010. Jonathan also works in advertising, and is best known for the controversial ‘slag of all snacks’ campaign for Pot Noodle.

A pod a day helps you work, rest and play

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4

Lit Bits on Film

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by film critic and author James Mottram to discuss several matters pertaining to literature and film.

After some general comments, the topics touched upon include the many difficulties involved when translating prose to the cinema—the life and opinions of Thomas Hanks Esq—the strange discourse of The Empire Strikes Back (a novel in several episodes)—the peculiarities of reading a book and attending the cinema—Mr Thomas Hanks (actor)—the attractions or otherwise of becoming a screenwriter—the curious circumstances that befell Thomas Hanks—as well as more surprising and unexpected adventures, full of learning and good wit.

Did we mention Tom Hanks?

Duration: 37.15

James Mottram is the author of The Sundance Kids: How the Mavericks Took Back Hollywood .

Boys on film.

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3

Lit Bits on Food

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by Polly Russell.

After the introduction to the work—or bill of fare to the feast—containing as much of the background as is necessary or proper to acquaint the listener (or ‘podder’) with in the beginning of this ‘podcast’—discussion turned to such topics as cookbooks—TV chefs—poems about plums—and the right number of servants for the upkeep of a stately house.

Containing scenes of gastronomical felicity in different degrees of life—and various other transactions. Fit for all to consume.

Duration: 38.55

Polly Russell is a Curator at the British Library, and co-author of the celebrated The Kitchen Revolution: A Year of Time-and-money-saving Recipes. Polly is also a chef, and has cooked under Joyce Molyneux and at London’s renowned Moro.

The pod you can eat between meals without runining your appetite.

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2

Lit Bits on Bad Literature

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by that traveller of Helicon and friend of Apollo, James Byrne.

Containing the most memorable transactions which passed in discussion of literature ripe in its badness. In this ‘podcast’, the listener—or ‘podder’—may pick up some hints concerning the writing—and reading—and poetry and prose. What is badness? Is it just a matter of taste (yeuch)? What makes a bad sentence?

Duration: 36.45

James Byrne is the editor of the poetry magazine The Wolf. His second poetry collection, Blood/Sugar, has just been published by Arc Publications. He lives in New York.

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1

Lit Bits on Football

In which Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by the sporting enthusiast and man of letters Joe Brooker.

Containing a portion of time somewhat longer than a demi-heure—and composed of many rules, and some examples—by which the twin arts of pen and boot may be aligned—and other prudential inducements to comparison. Which inaugurates Lit Bits, with an instance of wit, which—we hope—will not appear unnatural. The authors crave the forbearance of the listener (or ‘podder’) that this being a pilot pod, the sound is (in the words of the demotic) ‘somewhat patchy.’

Duration: 33.31

Joe Brooker teaches English literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he works on modern and contemporary literature and culture. He has written on the work of James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, and his latest book is Literature of the 1980s: After the Watershed (Edinburgh University Press, 2010).

A pod of three thirds

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"intelligent and irreverent ... cancel all social engagements and run a hot bath."

The Manchester Guardian

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