@speccymcspecspec*: Went out, like a young person. To the book festival, like a grown up. Am now home and ready for bed, like an old person. Tweet sent 8.30pm, Saturday
You’ll know I’m attempting to rouse my mind by reading more, reading better. In reality this has meant buying more, buying more books, but these will all get read eventually. Honest. (I’m beginning to think that the Jilly Cooper may actually be the cause of the brain deadness rather than something just to keep me entertained until I wake up again. It’s never ending, and ridiculous and is turning into a chore rather than the fun romp I’d hoped.) You’ll have gathered that I tend not to consider book buying to be ‘shopping’. This has been a long term issue which has not been eased by the Kindle: too easy to buy and forget about what’s on it.
The Belfast Book Festival has been on and I was determined to go to something, anything. Luckily, I managed to get to the event I most wanted to attend- the launch of Down these Green Streets, a collection of recent Irish crime writing. Declan Burke, Brian McGilloway, Colin Bateman and Stuart Neville all contributed to the book in some way, and spoke on the night. I’ve read, and enjoyed, books by all of them. Neville’s The Twelve is well worth hunting out. Other writers were present but didn’t announce themselves or input and so can’t complain that I’ve left them out.
Brian McGilloway is a teacher and I sort of envy his pupils; I could listen to him all day. Of course, I have no idea what he teaches or what his ‘Sir’ persona is like, but when talking about crime writing, his own and that of others, he was wonderful. Informative and entertaining; who would have suspected he’d need to research nappies from 1976? He didn’t read from his most recent book (the one after last week’s purchase), but next year’s publication. A novel about The Disappeared, the section he read included dead babies and abandoned old people. It was moving and gripping and it will be far too long before it comes out in paperback. In a cunning move, he’s hooked me into buying his next two paperbacks before I’ve read the most recent. Maybe he teaches Business?
The authors talked about how being brought up in Northern Ireland during ‘the troubles’ influenced their writing- either by a decision to ignore it altogether, create a comic distance, or provide a backdrop to the story. They discussed their approaches to research, the decomposition of stomach contents, the sense of order provided by crime fiction and the issue of using the image of the Empire State building in a -never made- film called Empire State.
A civilised hour away from the house, a new book (paid for), a new book (free), listening to experts. A good time was had. No wine was consumed during the having of this good time. I might be a grown up after all.
* Not my actual Twitter name. Yet.