Forget snowdrops and the like. I know spring is on its way when it’s time to go to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow for the AyeWrite! literary festival and I’ve got to say, am more excited than I have ever been at this year’s programme.
Friday 4.3.2011 – Comic Men
Remember last year’s case of the maverick camera? I’ve bought a new, hopefully more reliable gadget now and happily it delivered on the first event of the festival. I really enjoy listening to Jasper Fforde. He’s amusing, witty, as completely mad-cap as you would expect. You never ever know what you’ll be hearing next. So when he was asked if he suffers from triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number between 12 and 14), he explained that the habit of missing out chapter 13 was an idea that started with The Eyre Affair and which he only decided to develop into a habit when he wrote novel 2. Explaining his strategy of leaving loose ends that can be picked up later in the series, he might construct whatever turns out to be novel 13 out of the 13 missing chapters! Wouldn’t that be something?
The second event of the night saw the sell-out audience rolling in the aisles with laughter as we were treated to a series of clips from that 70’s classic series, the Goodies. Kat Kong, the Battle of Ecky Thump. I’m probably showing my age now as younger British generations may not have seen this. The series has, for unknown reasons, never been repeated in Britain and the DVD’s – now on my wishlist – have only recently been released. However, Australians have, in the words of Graeme Garden, been force fed the series. It is constantly transmitted there and the Australians in the audience were very knowledgeable. Garden was very funny and very grateful for the series which made him a megastar and, lest it be forgotten – a popstar. (Cue more classic clips, this time from Top of The Pops.) But radio remains his first love and I’ve made a note I must start listening in to the anarchy that may be I Haven’t Got A Clue.
The Glaswegians certainly had no clue as I meandered back to the car humming “Do, do, do the funky gibbon”. Fortunately I stopped short of doing the dance!
Saturday 5.3.2011 – Women on The Dark Side
I counted my chickens somewhat with the new camera, didn’t I? This one needs TLC in the form of periodic recharging and guess who forgot to recharge it? I’m simply too busy thinking about books.
Louise Welsh, Alice Thompson and Alex Gray on the stage at the same time exploring the fluidity of crime writing and the boundaries between that and high literature. Alice Thompson, from Edinburgh, sandwiched between two Glaswegians and feeling “like a trojan horse” because of that and also because The Existential Detective is her first crime novel. Although she believes that all novels are prototype crime novels as there’s always a mystery embedded in the plot. That’s certainly true of her previous 3 novels.
The Glaswegian authoresses were quite kind to the Edinburgh interloper although Alex Gray’s praise of Louise Welsh’s The Bullet Trick as the perfect crime novel was certainly the most effusive compliment. She also bagged the wittiest comment. Asked “What does Ian Rankin say to you being described as Glasgow’s answer to Ian Rankin?”, she responded “Ian doesn’t mind”.
Best response to an audience question from Louise Welsh. Question: “As a reader, I’m not that interested in the signing sessions that follow. How do they feel for you?”. The fun is in the meeting of readers who sometimes say the funniest things said Louise Welsh. A man came up her at a recent signing as said “My, you’re such a cheery sweet wee woman, aren’t you? Nothing like I expected.” If you’ve read Louise Welsh, you’ll know they take you into extreme dark psychological terrain and I mean extreme. Absolutely nothing like the “cheery, sweet, wee woman” who was sitting on the stage on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Gray said that signing sessions could be very painful if you were sitting next to someone who was shifting lots of copies and you weren’t. Alice Thompson likened that to torture. There was my cue. I wasn’t going to let that happen so I purchased one Existential Detective for my world book night giveaway and started the ball rolling. I know there were a few others who picked up copies too. I couldn’t possibly comment on who had been sending out less than subliminal messages about what a good read it is …….