The Last Days of Literary Friction

by Maria on November 30, 2023

My favourite ever podcast, Literary Friction, is finishing after ten great years of monthly episodes interviewing authors and talking about books. I’d begun to guess something was up when, over the past few months, its hosts – Octavia Bright and Carrie Plitt – remarked several times about how long they’d been going. Still, when they announced a couple of weeks ago that they’re wrapping it up at the end of the year, I was surprised and sad, a bit like when a couple splits up and you realise them being together was a hidden foundation of your little world. But in a para-social, internet-y kind of way. Well, nothing good lasts forever! If you’re interested in literary fiction, there’s a tremendous back catalogue of episodes.

Each episode has an author interview, then some discussion about a theme the book suggested, then some cultural recommendations. My favourite episode ever was probably the one with the poet Ocean Vuong about his novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. I’d not heard of him before listening to the podcast, and hearing him read his prose so softly and beautifully made me fall in love with the book. It became one of those books that you spot people reading on the Tube and can’t help smile at them. (Weird! I know. But only this past weekend I was walking to a WH Smith till with a Deborah Levy book and a woman came up to me to say how delighted she was by it. I’m so very much here for these awkward little encounters. Reminds me how, in the risible SF section of the same airport bookshop last year, I imposed myself on two American teenaged goths who were mournfully returning to a red state, and hand-sold them A Wizard of Earthsea.)
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