It’s a welcome relief for all book lovers, sometimes, not having to read. Academic fatigue, and indeed fatigue usually stifles our ability to interact with the words on the page. Literary friction is a podcast that offers a perfect escape, while allowing you not to completely cut ties with the literary world.
Hosted by friends Carrie Plitt and Octavia Bright, the podcast is a monthly NTS Radio show that focuses on an interview with a current author, but also includes cultural recommendations and lively discussion. Along with these episodes, “Minisodes” look at books based on a certain theme. These themes range from “Mothers” to “The Campus Novel,” and the episodes are full of innovative ideas and interesting suggestions.
Both Carrie and Octavia have established roles in the literary world, being literary agent, writer and academic respectively. Their professional involvement lends the podcast an air of deep knowledge and understanding, while also giving them the opportunity to interview major writers such as Maggie NelsonRachel Kushner and Deborah Levy.
Despite their high accolades, the podcast is not inaccessible. Their conversations are exploratory and engaging, touching on topics both close to your heart and far away. One of my favorite episodes is an interview with Natasha Brown, author of the 2021 novel Assembly. I found Brown’s background intriguing: Before writing, she had studied mathematics at Cambridge and worked in the financial sector, later publishing her first novel. Assembly.
It’s excerpts like these that reading alone won’t get you. Getting a glimpse into the life of an author is always an exciting experience. Knowing his background made the subject of Brown’s work more understandable. Assembly tells the story of a black British woman invited to a garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate. Having technically “succeeded” (via a bank job and an apartment of her own), Brown’s narrator is forced to come to terms with the race and class barriers that keep her from feeling comfortable in the ranks. superiors of the company.
One of my favorite “Minisodes” is called “Twilight Knowing”. Taking place in the wake of COP26, this episode discusses the potential of literature to inspire people to activism. They discuss work such as Jenny Offill Time, considering how one can write in the light of climate change, without it feeling like a disaster novel. It’s episodes like these that demonstrate their podcast’s strength in its alternative range of thought and depth.
The chemistry between Carrie and Octavia is what sustains this podcast. Connecting is like entering into a chat with friends, and their affection for each other creates a sweet, open, and inspiring style of talk.
This common touch also goes beyond the podcast itself: it’s something I share and discuss with my family and friends, and it’s always interesting to see the different recommendations people pick up and the ideas that they like. Literary friction strikes the perfect balance between relaxed listening and exciting, stimulating challenges.