The Podcasters

The Podcasts


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

The Manchester Guardian

LitBits on the Wireless

Listen to Litbits on Resonance 104 FM on Tuesday evenings at 9 o'clock.