Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Day 12

My discoveries for the day...

The last time Adam Thorpe was in the Spiegeltent he was doing an event with Hilary Mantel (left), who was writing 'Wolf Hall' at the time. Adam asked her what she was working on, and she said it was a novel about Thomas Cromwell. “Oh”, Adam remembers saying sarcastically; “that'll go down well”.

The rest is history.

Given that Charlotte Square Gardens is slap bang in the middle of Scotland's capital city (which, in turn, is slap bang in the middle of festival season), noise from the outside world sometimes slips into the ambiance of the theatres. But this has always been dealt with to great effect in the events I've been to. Danny Wallace said of the rainstorm - “I have angered Thor”. Adam Thorpe said of the sirens - “I specifically asked for these sound effects”. When a plane flew very low over the Gardens, Stuart Kelly remarked - “you'll always remember you were at the Book Festival the day war broke out”. And, the other day, when a group of girls were heard squealing outside the Main Theatre, an audience member leaned over and said to me “crikey, you'd think Jacqueline Wilson was out there or something”. Sure enough, when I went outside, there was Jacqueline Wilson herself, talking animatedly to a group of eager fans. What a lucky guess.

Claire Kilroy's gothic novel, 'The Devil I Know', was not supposed to be gothic. But while she was writing it, the Irish economic situation was dominating the news, which she heard through the radio. “ATMs will freeze, hospitals will close. Go buy some tin peaches because it might be the last meal you have in a while”. And, before she knew it, her writing was reflecting that looming asperity.

Each day at the Book Festival has been jam-packed with authors performing readings of their work, be them funny, moving, haunting, inspiring, or all of the above. But next time you hear a reading, make sure you bring the original text along... because Karen Campbell has confessed to occasionally self-editing as she reads out her work to an audience! I wonder if any other Book Festival authors do this. Let's keep a very sharp eye out. And if you catch someone doing it, heckle! Loudly.


(I said don't!)

Day 11 and a half

Not sure what events to go to? Here are some recommendations for the next few days. 

This evening (Wednesday 22nd)

This is a unique chance to hear from an eclectic Book Festival author, artist and film-maker. In 2011 he won Sweden's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and an Academy Award. This year he's sharing his experiences and inspirations with a lucky Book Festival audience. He's on at 5PM in the ScottishPower Studio Theatre.
The idea that I actually need to say anything persuasive about this fellow is a bit silly. So I'll just say his name. Iain Banks. Iain Banks will be here. 8PM in the RBS Main Theatre.

Tomorrow (Thursday 23rd)

There's a whole host of great events on Thursday, and this one is right up there. Professor Paul Broda (left) will be speaking with Tam Dalyell about some astonishing political truths. Paul Broda's stepfather was Alan Nunn May - a Soviet spy. Hear about the history and resonance of this at 5PM in the ScottishPower Studio Theatre.
Sex, secrets and dangerous whims - the incredibly successful writer of 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher' has penned a new Victorian scandal to match it. Join her at 11.30AM in the RBS Main Theatre. The tickets are hot, so don't burn your fingers.

The day after tomorrow (Friday 24th)

As recommended events go, I'm recommending this one fiercely. I might tantrum if you don't go. Carol Ann Duffy is - obviously - Poet Laureate. She will be joined not only by her fervent talent, but by musician John Sampson. This unmissable event is on at 4.30PM in the RBS Main Theatre.

This children's event on Friday afternoon sounds fantastic. The Book Festival can offer young 'uns a peek inside James Carter's brain - and it's a brain full of bewitching imagination and wild poetry. Ideal for kids aged 6 to 10. Join us at 1.30PM in the RBS Imagination Lab. And you may want to take the name of the venue, "Imagination Lab", literally.