In describing the low point of my EBF experience, I shall betray my britishness. We Brits have a justifiable obsession with the weather which I’ve been trying to avoid at all costs during this journal. However, the events on Princes Street on 21.08.2008 at 22:12 p.m and the actions of the driver of the number 44 bus to Balerno has demoted literature from the top priority of this post.
I suppose that my smugness in avoiding the torrential rain of 19.08.2008 required divine retribution, duly delivered at 21.08.2008 22:12 p.m. The driver of that number 44 bus to Balerno must have known for as he drove past the little black blob that was Lizzy (long black skirt, black 3/4 length kagool, black umbrella) his left front wheel accidentally (on purpose?) ploughing through the flash flood that was coursing its way to the inadequate drainage. So it was that the great wave rose from the road to overwhelm the pavement and the pedestrian Lizzy. Fast forward to the scene two seconds later and picture your own version of the drowned rat. Fortunately the book bag hanging from on my right shoulder was protected by the bulk of my black blobness with the signed copies additionally protected by plastic bags. And that is the only reason why there is no contract on the bus driver of that 21.08.2008 22:12 number 44 bus to Balerno! Saved ironically by a WATERstones carrier bag.
You couldn’t make it up!
So while he (the driver of the 21.08.2008 22:12 number 44 bus to Balerno) scoots off high and dry, Lizzy is left with cold, wet, and thoroughly bedraggled facing a 90-minute journey home. My obsessive fantasies of revenge gradually replaced by the good memories of hours spent at the EBF.
More irony as the low point of the day was preceded with what is destined to be the high point of the fortnight. Sebastian Barry waking us up with words and a reading from his Booker longlisted “The Secret Scripture”. If you get an opportunity to go and hear him read from this, take it. It is a phenomenal performance. I hadn’t read the book and I’m so glad to have experienced this beforehand. Because I don’t think I would have read the book in such a comic way. The audience reaction summed up by the following comment (not mine, though I agree): “Sebastian, I would love to buy your book afterwards, but you’ll have to come home with it!”.
Sadly, ladies, we’ll have to settle for this podcast on the Faber and Faber website.
A few hours between events today, and time time for some sightseeing. Wandering around the streets of Edinburgh during festival time, there is no lack of entertainment .., from all over the world. Take a look at the selection of shots on Flickr and enjoy.
Back to Charlotte Square and the international fiction strand courtesy of the Swedes, Bengt Ohlson and Klas Ostergren. Ohlson, a brave man, retelling the tale of the classic Doctor Glas (review to follow) in his novel Gregorius (reading and review to follow). Ostergren’s Gentlemen a novel written 28 years ago and only just translated into English. A novel written by an exuberant young man as Ostergren was at pains to emphasise, particularly as he’s just written a sequel and the style is completely different – more controlled, spare and mature. (Words of the author). At the signing, I confirmed that he’d asked the reader to forgive much of the author. Yes, he said, that’s true.
Final event of the day – Andrew Sean Greer and Andre Dubus III. For obvious reasons, a must-attend event for me. Shirking not my responsibility to ask the difficult questions to ASG. The answers to which are deserving of a separate post.
Great day. Good memories – actions of the driver of the 21.08.2008 22:12 number 44 bus to Balerno notwithstanding! And should you know who he is, don’t tell me!