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  • Michael Hocking

New Podcast Episodes & Book Recommendations!

Will I ever write a blog post that doesn't begin with an apology?

Needless to say, apologies once again for the radio silence. These are indeed trying times...

However, the good news is that two new episodes of Visitors are now available wherever fine podcasts are found!

Episode 2 features a conversation and live session with Phil Madeley, who discusses his debut EP 21st Century Witch Hunt and plays two acoustic tracks for the podcast.

Episode 3 finds Allegra Krieger exploring her debut album The Joys of Forgetting. Allegra also plays album opener 'The Push and The Pull' and a brand new song just for the podcast!

Head over to the podcast page to listen. More episodes to come soon. Keep your ear to the ground.

In other news: like many of you, I have been sustained throughout lockdown by the wonder that is Abe Books. If you're after books that are a little off the beaten track, or that are very much on main street but are a little overpriced, Abe is the place to go for great second hand books.

I usually have a couple of fiction and non-fiction books going at any one time - teetering precariously on my beside table - and I really struck gold with my last haul. So, I thought I'd share them with you.

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm is a short but densely packed philosophical and psychological exploration of love in all its forms, making the case for love as a productive, practiced process, an 'art' which we must master. It's a fascinating piece of work and well worth a read, not only for Fromm's finely-wrought and compelling argument for the importance of properly-practiced love, but for its beautiful passages, written in exquisite prose, glimmering like precious stones nestled deep within the treatise. Everyone should read this book.

Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis is one of two books here which I was lucky enough to discover thanks to the remarkable short-story collection My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, a near-perfect selection of love stories, compiled by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm still reading this one, but I'm already deeply struck by Bezmozgis. He writes about childhood and adolescence with an arresting frankness and fluency. Fans of great short fiction will find a gem here.

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore, also brought to my attention by Eugenides' collection, really took my breath away. Moore's lucidity and subtle lyricism, at times, brought flashes of Nabokov's Mary and Larkin's The Whitsun Weddings to mind. Moore explores romance and the expectations of womanhood with dexterity and heartbreaking power. I'm now a committed Moore fan and will be devouring everything else she's written in the coming months.

Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag really needs no introduction and any attempt at summation on my part would be foolish. However, reading this for the second time reveals not only the ferocity of mind with which Sontag approaches her subjects throughout this collection, but the jaw-dropping style with which she does it. Reading Sontag is akin to watching a magic act - how does she do it?

I hope you find these recommendations useful. Watch this space for more updates very soon.

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