Monday, 21 March 2016

'…talking of Michelangelo'

So we hosted two very exciting novelists last week in an art gallery!,  reading from and talking about their work. Hosted by poet, novelist and creative writer Paul McDonald, the first was James Hannah, author of the elegiac but also very witty The A-Z of You and Me, who explained how necessary it was to be funny about impending death. Coming from a family of medics black humour has always been part of the conversation so I didn't need persuading, but the audience was enthralled.

This is how we always dress for literary occasions
The headline act was Catherine O'Flynn, who made a huge splash with her debut novel What Was Lost back in 2008. Her latest piece is Mr Lynch's Holiday, an exploration of emigré Irish identity and the ways in which we come to terms with our parents' agency and autonomy just as we realise that 'kidulthood' just isn't enough to cope with the demands of contemporary life (something I thought about recently while reading Margery Allingham's Coroner's Pidgin, in which the fun-loving Bright Young Things of the 1930s have to cope – or not – with killing and being killed in WW2).

As well as reading from their works, Catherine and James discussed their habits as authors, the ways in which they consciously structured their texts, the challenge of being funny through multiple drafts, the notion of the 'difficult second novel' (Catherine says she only writes a novel when provoked by interesting thoughts, which seems reasonable) and much else besides.

Many thanks to Wolverhampton Art Gallery for hosting the event: the Georgian room looked lovely, the beer was cold and we look forward to many more similar events with them.

The audience gathers

Audience members react to Catherine O'Flynn

Catherine O'Flynn

Catherine O'Flynn amidst a literary salon 

Sometimes it got a bit hairy

Dr Colbert introduces the guests

Catherine O'Flynn reads from Mr Lynch's Holiday

Catherine O'Flynn receives tumultuous applause

Catherine O'Flynn and James Hannah

James Hannah reads from The A-Z of You and Me

James Hannah reading from The A-Z of You and Me

Catherine O'Flynn and James Hannah

Catherine O'Flynn and James Hannah

James Hannah gets passionate

It all gets a bit spooky for James Hannah


One audience member recoils from the filth purveyed by our visiting authors

Our genial host, Dr Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald and Catherine O'Flynn

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