Monday, 23 March 2015

Meet the literati

What a spectacular weekend. A long and very hilly bike ride to blow away some cobwebs (and ligaments), and three astonishing rugby matches after which the result went the right way. If only Stoke City had managed the same thing…

The highlight of the weekend though was going to a proper posh book launch. The book is The A to Z of You and Me and its author is James Hannah, a man who combines intellect, emotional depth, serious engagement with ideas and (this is the annoying bit) being a fully rounded human being. In such circumstances I feel like Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, who having been made accidentally immortal, discovers that the natural immortals are a 'load of serene bastards' who annoy him intensely.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that you should all buy James's book. And then his next one, whenever that's due. The launch was lovely: held in the gorgeous Wenlock Books (whose owners sung a hymn of praise about one of my students, which was lovely) and presided over by Christine, James's wife and eminence grise (and her dad). There were several other authors present, so I had to buy their books, plus the combination of wine and endless shelves of books meant that I came home with a bulging sack of treats, such as the 1954 collection of Times Leader articles, a battered but beautiful 1938 edition of Sacheverell Sitwell's Gothick North trilogy and lots of others besides. Though obviously I'll read James's novel first.

James also signed my copy of his novel. Declining to dedicate to 'EBay, with love', he recalled that Eimear McBride signed my A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing like this:

and entered a dialogue with her:

which is utterly thrilling.

I took some photographs. Apologies for the quality: the entire bookshop was lit beautifully but dimly by a standard lamp and perhaps some starlight. ISO2000 and very slow shutter speeds required.

James Hannah, author

James read a section called 'Feet'. So this shot felt appropriate.


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