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The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012
Published 9 months ago
Our regular Festival go-er, Carol Ford, shares with us her experiences at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012
Sunday, 19th August
Charlotte Square is situated near the west end of Princes Street, currently amidst road works, traffic cones and redirected traffic routes due to the laying of tram lines. The Book Festival marquees, which are set up in the circular garden in the middle of Charlotte Square, surround the magnificent equestrian statue of Prince Albert.
Sunday was a humid, sunny, day and people of all ages were sitting at tables, enjoying the weather in the centre courtyard. Others were either queuing up for events or milling around on the wooden walkways.
The first event my friend Sandra and I attended featured Ali Smith, an Inverness-born lass now living in Cambridge. Ali has a few books under her belt; her last novel being ‘There But For The’. To be honest I had never heard of her previously, but I found her sense of humour and use of puns very entertaining. She writes about love, sexuality and relationships, all with an amazing wit.
After coffee and cake our next event was a ‘threesome’. Allan Guthrie, Sara Sheridan and Gavin Inglis talked firstly about themselves and their achievements in the book world followed by some very interesting information on how to get ‘plugged in’ to the literary community. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, media, libraries and book groups are all ways in which we can let people see our work. They also talked about entering the E-book world, as this technology is the way of the future.
Time for lunch - you do a lot of eating at book festivals! We wandered along nearby Rose Street, which used to be great for shopping when I lived in the town. Now there are numerous wine bars, cafes, takeaways and restaurants.
Anne Enright was our next port of call, a very clever Irish writer whose books have won various prizes over the years. She read from her latest novel ‘The Forgotten Waltz’ set in Ireland, and it is a dark, humorous tale about adultery. She left us wanting to hear more.
After browsing around the bookshop tents and wandering out for tea, and more cake, we returned to find the queue for our next event wound round the entire walkway TWICE! Nile Rodgers is an American musician, producer, songwriter and guitarist, born in the fifties; no doubt you have all heard of him. His first claim to fame was in a band named ‘Chic’ who had the enormous hit with ‘Le Freak’. Yes - you oldies out there will remember disco dancing to it. Come on now, own up. His book is about his life of sex, drugs and music, hmmmm...
The place was packed, mostly with fans, and as I scanned the audience, particularly the guys, I saw trance-like faces. With wide eyes and mouths hanging open, it was like being at a teenage rock concert - only the teenagers weren’t teenagers...!
Tiring fast, it was time for a taxi back to Sandra’s sister and a good night’s sleep. Looking back on Book Festival Sunday, I admit to some disappointment - I thought it would have been busier.
Monday, 20th August.
That was NOT the case with Monday.. A bigger crowd was present, including lots of school children, who all added to the atmosphere.
Frank Westerman, a Dutch journalist, enthralled us with his intriguing history of the Lippizaner horses which were bred originally for the Emperor of Austria. Westerman told us how Hitler and Stalin conducted experiments on these marvellous creatures in an attempt to create the ‘perfect’ breed. Hitler, as we all know, believed he could create a ‘pure’ human race through genetics. He also believed he could create the perfect horse using the same process. This was a mind-blowing talk and, if anyone is interested in Westerman’s historical reporting, his book is called ‘The Horses That Witnessed War’.
After even more cake we were entertained by Allan Wilson and Lucy Wood. Watch out for them - they are two young, up and coming short story writers, who read from their latest books. Lucy Wood is from Cornwall and loves to incorporate the beautiful Cornish landscapes within her magical tales of lonely drivers, a wishing tree and an old white door. Her book is called ‘Diving Belles’.
We had previously seen Allan Wilson in Dundee when he made his very first appearance in the DCA. A lovely, down to earth young guy, he has a superb sense of humour. His book of short stories ‘Wasted In Love’ charts the relationships of several couples as they fall in and out with each other and fight against everyday problems.
We finished our visit listening to Helen Dunmore, who read from her latest chilling novella ‘The Greatcoat’. Set in East Yorkshire not long after the war, it tells the story of a woman who discovers an old RAF officer’s coat in her new flat. She uses the coat on her bed to keep warm, but later in her dreams she hears a tapping on the window.....
We definitely wanted to hear more of that!
Out for tea once more... then we hit the road for home, with mixed feelings of satisfaction and a heaviness in our stomachs due to the overindulgence of - you’ve guessed it - CAKE..!
If I had to compare the Edinburgh Book Festival to Hay On Wye, with some reluctance, I would have to say the latter impressed me more. Granted, it is a bigger event and hosts bigger names, but the atmosphere in Hay on Wye is second to none. Nevertheless, the Edinburgh event is definitely worth a visit.
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