Frome's 'Hunting Raven', one of the most successful independent bookshops in the southwest, is ten years old this week so there have been celebrations on the cobbles of Cheap Street. Local authors Kate Maryon and Rachel Ward both have new books out, Kate's Glitter for the pre-teens and Rachel's The Chaos, second in her Numbers series, appealing to both YA and adult readers.
Another local novelist in town is Lindsay Clarke, whose new novel The Water Theatrewas reviewed in The Times in spectacularly giddying terms:
"Out of a tale of family traumas, Clarke has revived his career with a thrilling, insightful hymn to our humanity... a stunning, compelling tale that tackles the biggest theme of all: the existence of evil, and how ordinary, fallible mortals come to terms with Man’s astonishing capacity for brutality and venality... The Water Theatre should re-establish him as one of our most talented, ambitious and groundbreaking novelists. There is nothing small about this book; it is huge in scope, in energy, in heart... big themes are matched by exquisite, lyrical prose. ...The Water Theatre will linger long beyond the turning of the last page. It is difficult to remember a recent book that is at once so beautiful and yet so thoughtprovoking."
On the subject of big themes and venal behaviour, in the Mail of all places (my preferred Café reading: "know your enemy", but don't pay him) I found a political feature commenting on Blair's memoirs, and him, with utter contempt. Only two sentences failed to chime with me: "In a different age, retiring statesmen wrote candidly and lucidly about great matters of government and international diplomacy. But now, sadly, Blair has given us the political equivalent of chicklit. " And what did chicklit, even the trashiest, ever do to deserve comparison with the malice and lies of a man who has more in common with the Deepwater Horizon disaster than a pink paperback? Except even BP's global messup only killed 11 men directly, while ten thousand times that number died in Iraq.
And with a new season of StageWrite workshops starting, Niamh and I have begun planning our theme of 'Dressing Up Box.' As we both subscribe to Nietzsche's view that "all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking" our meetings generally involve pacing round the lake at Stourhead or along the river Frome but this week we went further: a nine mile cycle ride and lunch at the wonderful Lighthouse organic café in Tytherington. Yummy hummus and great views.
Apparently psychologists agree with most children that we're designed to thrive outside not at a desk, and then there's the stimulus of rhythm and the physiological arousal of motion which improves brain functioning. So there you are - three more reasons to enjoy the late summer sunshine.