Monday, 21 May 2007

Pop go the festivals

I'm back - I have a backlog of things I want to discuss but am still pushed for time because of the manifold claims on my attention!

In the meantime, check out an article in the Independent about the boom in literary festivals - you may remember me discussing this in an earlier post. With the Hay on Wye festival imminent (130,000 attended last year), this is a timely examination of the 'more than 100 jamborees for the prose and poetry-obsessed every year.' It refers to a music promoter who's 'thinking of getting into book events. You don't realise how many people there are out there who want to spend a weekend in a tent, or maybe just an afternoon, chowing down about the latest hot writer or wanting to be in the same room as Simon Schama or Lauren Child'. Well, my fellow literafiends, how hip are we? Whose books are you chowing down at present?

Liam Browne, who's involved with the Brighton and Dublin festivals, says: 'Publishers will now often require an author to make a certain number of appearances ... There is more pressure than ever on writers to perform.' Was it Monty Python who long ago had a sketch where a famous writer (Hardy?) sat at a desk in public and started to write, with a spoof sportstyle commentary going on ('And he's picked up the pen ... and he's written his first word ... and it's 'The' .. No, no, he's crossed it out, groans from the waiting crowd ...') Or was it Not the Nine O'Clock News that did the sketch? Some kind soul will enlighten me.

I digress. Liam Browne also says audiences are no longer passive: 'these events are much more interactive than they used to be.' Sounds scary. By the way I can recommend a book edited by Robin Robertson called 'Mortification' (Harper Perennial 2004), which is an anthology of the humiliations writers have gone through at signings, interviews, on book tours in darkest middle America and the like. A nice helping of schadenfreude there!

The festivals article is at

'Scuse me now while I go off and nag my son (in a loving manner of course) some more (he has four more exams this week, a music performance and a coursework draft ...)

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