Monday, 3 March 2008

Ennis Book Festival Review

I met some of my blog visitors at the Ennis Book festival. Hi all. Nice to meet you in the flesh.

I went to a few readings -
Mary O'Donnell short story reading. Looking forward to her collection's release in May. It's so nice to be read to in the mimddle of the day. They should do it at work. They should have more short stories on the radio.

A poetry reading by Richard Tillinghast (I arrived late having it in my head as starting at a different time and wandering round Ennis's rather good boutiques for too long) an American in Ireland with a fabulous hat and good blarney,
Nuala Ni ChonChuir from Palmerstown. I hadn't heard her before though I'd good things. Very moving poems, particularly the miscarriage sequence followed swiftly by sexy haiku. I'd love to read her fiction too.
Theo Dorgan - I am now officially a fan. A terrific story teller and some great, long poems, on mythology, the adult version and one I loved on an event at Kilmainham Jail. He has two collections being re-released together this month (I think) from Dedalus Press.

Also the Roddy Doyle and Joanne Harris double act - both very witty in a quite cutting way, opinionated (that's a good thing) particularly about writing and reading and they both used to be teachers. I'm waiting for Lollipop Shoes (a sequel to everyone's favourite novel about chocolatiering) to come out in paperback. I do enjoy a bit of magical realism. If you like Joanne, try Kate Atkinson. I read Roddy's short story re-visiting Jimmy Rabbitte in an otherwise tired copy of MacSweeny. It's also in his collection Deportees.

The finale was lunch (soup and sandwiches, no tea?) and a reading and chat with the great raconteur Dermot Bolger. (My best beloved asked me what a raconteur was and I said it was he was like after a few pints.)

Ones I didn't go to:
I talked to a regular punter (aka not an emerging writer or a writer of any kind) about the readings she'd been to and she praised the one about 10 books you must read by Fintan O'Toole and
Chocolate tasting (how did I miss that?) said to be delicious. Long may it last.
Lorna Landvik - good light reading. She also said she tries hard not to put herself into her writing, which strikes me as strange, tough, if not impossible to do and possibly not so self aware.
Kate Bateman - how to read a book was highly praised with a handout on what to look out for. One attendee said each section was like a mini lecture and she found it hard to take in so much information at once.
Reading Memoir with Nuala O'Faolain, Richard Tillinghast, Brian Keenan and Hugo Hamilton. Very good but harrowing from these (mostly) damaged people. It's hard to separate the damage from the person.

Many kudos to the organising committee for a riveting, diverse and well run festival and see you next year. (can you make it cheaper? - I found the tickets very expensive)

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