Sunday, January 17, 2010

Literary Listings

Faced with a nine hour wait at frozen Gatwick, I was glad of Writing Magazine in my hand luggage. Time to peruse fifteen pages about Book Festivals and Writing courses on offer in 2010.

My Fantasy Holiday Programme consists of alternating Book and Film Festivals. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be in a city when a film festival’s on, but in fact I find the October London FF is more than enough. I always end up too traumatised to ever want to see a screen again. It once took a week to wear off.

A first glance at the magazine discounts some of the literary events straight away – too far, too posh, too expensive, and too crowded. I don’t want a gala dinner. I don’t want to hear the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire talking to David Blunkett. Too many places feature Margaret Drabble and/or Gervase Phinn. The dedicated-to-one author ones look attractive, and likely to attract enthusiasts instead of poseurs – Dickens at Broadstairs, Grahame Greene at Berkhamstead, My top favourite would be the Harrogate Crimewriting Festival, except it’s in one (at least) of the discounted categories .

The separate list of courses and workshops is even fancier. People would get on my nerves, so anything residential is out. If I want to walk between writing sessions or retreat to the Tuscan hills I can arrange it myself. I’d rather hire a caravan in Whitstable. Hot weather and scenery give me writers’ block.

So maybe it’ll be a case of one-off events at the LRB bookshop again. Hilary Mantel on the eve of winning the Booker Prize, AS Byatt being taught how to suck eggs by some whippersnapper, Ma Jian reading from Beijing Coma – all memorable in 2009.

But what’s this? An email on my return, telling me about a free Literary Festival in London, with top-flight authors and fascinating topics, ie 'How would a Robot Read a Novel?'
It's the Space For Though Literary Festival, at the LSE. Well, that’s made my mind up. And it’s even happening soon, in February.


Joanna said...

Thanks for the info - will check it out myself. And you've just reminded me that I must get round to visiting the cafe at the LRB as I've heard great things about it.

Sheila Cornelius said...

Joanna, I don't know about the cafe as it's been closed when I've attended talks there, or in use for entertaining authors. There's also a courtyard wine bar nearby which seems popular and which I've been advised to use by the cafe staff. Didn't seem much point, though, when my ticket for a talk included wine.


Joanna said...

The wine bar is good but it's expensive as it's part of the Davy's chain.