I'm disconcerted to find myself in agreement with Salman Rushdie on the Slumdog subject - although he is considerably more irascible about this 'banal fluff.. slum tourism', commenting in the Guardian: 'To watch your home town's story being told in this comically absurd, tawdry fashion is, finally, to grow annoyed.'
Back in Bristol, Polly Teale from Shared Experience, was at Bristol Old Vic to reveal 'how to weave a more physical approach into the building of character' to sixteen keen would-be playwrights. Hurtling around with chairs and intensive text analysis combined to confirm: objectives and obstacles are the essence of drama. "A good scene can be quite spare, a lot of it will come from the playing of it."
Bath Literature Festival boasts 'debate discovery passion and inspiration' and like all good festivals there's far too much to do. I went to hear Debby Holt, Sarah Duncan, and Robyn Sisman discuss the place - & status - of romance, an entertaining debate which proved a point made by Robyn: the novels may be light but that doesn't mean they're easy to write, despite the literary prejudice against romantic comedy. As Sarah said: women's issues are no less valuable than man-genres like Goth the Impaler. But can the complexities of a relationship be conveyed in a novel designed to entertain? asks chair Caroline Kington. Debby says an emphatic 'Yes - you can make a point more effectively in a funny way." I agree, and I wish I could remember who said Humour tells the truth, but faster.
Writer and publisher Diana Cambridge has a neat take on relationships too: they're our way of warding off death, she suggests, by making life dangerous and dynamic. We met for long nibbly lunch at Cafe Rouge, and later I was back in the Guildhall ready to be dazzled by the heavyweight talents of literary award-winners Helen Dunmore, Jane Gardam, and Rose Tremain. The brochure blurb predicted converse on writing about love and yearning, youth and old age, loneliness, sex and exile. Irresistible. In the event they discussed form, research, and something defined, somewhat pompously, as 'the writerly frame of mind'. Perhaps it's a problem of format. Mathematically, a trio of writers talking should be three times as interesting a solo subject in the chair, but actually this triple division of topic feels superficial even in a heavy-going event like this. Paradoxically the chick-lit authors in the morning event achieved interactive discussion more successfully to create a sense of reciprocal interest. Or maybe it was the chandeliers in the great hall upstaging all below.
And finally... a word & image miscellany from here, there, and beyond:
"It's fun and it's difficult but that's the combination that, sometimes, gets you through" - Larry from U2 on making music. True of writing & life too.
"It's the best rush I've ever had and I'm utterly, hopelessly, addicted to it" - T.C.Boyle on writing. He's allegedly done 'vandalism, alcohol, drugs, maniacal driving, and the writings of Kerouac' so he should know.
LET DE MAN SPEAK, LET DE MAN BE HERD - Islamic hiphop site.
(Heartfelt echo is from a shopfront in Frome.)
"Can written language ever capture and recreate spoken language, or is it a place where the book is a lesser place than the tongue and the ear?"
Ian McMillan's piece in The Reader is about writing in dialect, but i think it's a good question for every writer.
'In all Fairhurst's work there is a powerful human presence through actions, intervention, emotion and humour.'
Arnolfini guide to the Angus Fairhurst exhibition, on till the end of the month.
One of the first things you learn as a writer is that you write what you can, not what you want. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, quoted by Debby.
Crysse finds her niche in the temple of Diana at Stourhead.