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Damned Conjuror Goes to Edinburgh (Part One)

September 4, 2009

It all started on a dark and stormy night…no, wait that’s not right. Once upon a time…that’s not right either; this story starts in the morning, the dark grey morning where time stands still, not really but it was raining. It wasn’t exciting, in fact, it was the antithesis of excitement so I’ll skip it.

I’m going to concentrate only on the literature side of my trip, I’m sure most of you are not interested in what restaurants I went to, or what comedy acts I saw yada yada…unless you are then send a postcard to the address at the bottom of the screen.

OK…the first author I saw was David Crystal. He was talking about his new book, a memoir, Just a Phrase I’m Going Through. He’s a linguist, which might give you the impression that his talk would be dry and dull, but you would be so far from the truth [something funny here] because he was an absolute riot. He was informative, funny, a real showman; he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hands like scavenging hamsters, scavenging hamsters who can’t get enough of linguistics. You know the ones; they spend all day in their cages doing the crossword puzzle.

He talked about how being a linguist isn’t a sedentary job but a dangerous occupation; he talked about giving a lecture at Trinity College, Dublin where the day before a lecturer was shot…in the same lecture hall. The story contains nuns, an amusing mix-up, a plain-clothed policeman who no one knows what he looks like.

The funniest story was when he went to Copacabana to give a lecture. He was trying to get to the beach but got lost, he asked a man, in his best Brazilian accent, which is supposed to be nasal sounding where Copacabana is. He said it in the most nasally way…writing it it loses some of it’s impact, but trust me it was hilarious. The man said Copacabana? Crystal replied Copacabana, the man replied ah..Copacabana and told Crystal to follow him to…wait for it…a brothel. David Crystal explained that his pronunciation was too nasal, it’s like when you put a inflection when pronouncing a word to evoke a wink wink, nudge nudge know what I mean to what you say.

Trust me it was funny.

So, a great start…also I got my book signed.

The second author I saw was Iain Banks. Unfortunately, from the absolutely brilliant and entertaining start the festival takes a nosedive, into a slightly dull hour (although I feel as if I’m being unnecessarily harsh, so let me explain). Iain Banks spent about thirty minutes reading the prologue from his new book.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m not a fan when an author reads something from their work, look I came to the festival to hear an author talk about their work not listen to them read it. I can go to the bookshop, pick the book up and read it aloud myself. Secondly, authors’ aren’t usually very good orators, that’s why audio books aren’t read by the author, usually.

So, I sit there listening to Banks speak and I zone out, and consequently I don’t feel like getting his book. Of course that will change because from what I read it looks interesting. After the thirty-minutes-that-seemed-like-five-hours ended, it was discussion time and Q&A. This is where it went up a notch, and Banks turned from boring speaker to being lively, warm and someone you would want to listen to for an hour.

The third author I saw was Neil Gaiman. Now, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Gaiman the novel writer as opposed to Gaiman the comic writer. Saying that, his books are usually always, worth a read, he obviously loves what he does (duh) and it shows in interviews, from what I’ve seen.

The queue waiting to get in was looooooong, like longer than the queue outside a kebab shop on a Friday night. You could say that Gaiman was the rock star of the festival. So anyway we get in and sit down and then we’re subjected to another reading. He read from his new book, The Graveyard Book. It went on and on and on. Finally, it ended and it was Q&A. Which had only three questions, why? because a) Gaiman went on and on reading his book and b) Gaiman answered the questions in detail and this where it was top notch. He gave some insightful answers, and I couldn’t help but thinking why didn’t he just do a Q&A session? He was very informative, didn’t say glib answers so I would have been happy to listen to that for an hour.

After I got my book signed, well comic book. That sounds like I got it signed immediately, don’t be silly. I got out quickly to queue up but I still had to wait for about 1 hour 30 mins to 2 hours.

Coming up: thrills, chills, laughs and I meet the author of my favourite book

Also, I’ll try and get some photos up soon. Whenever I can be bothered getting the cable for the camera.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2009 12:34 pm

    I didn’t realise you went up to Edinburgh too. I tried to see Neil Gaiman, but I was too late booking a ticket, so missed out. I’m not a fan of readings either – I much prefer the Q&A. I look forward to reading about meeting the author of your favourite book!

    • September 5, 2009 1:03 pm

      We probably walked past each other, spooky *X-Files music*. What authors did you see? That’s a shame although, to be honest, you didn’t miss much. I might write part two after lunch.

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