Sunday, 9 October 2016

Literary failures and successes

I have admitted defeat (for the time being) with Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I picked it up in the library on the spur of the moment and struggled with it for a fortnight, but it is impenetrable. Even though there is a wiki specifically designed to lead you through the finer points of the novel I decided that this is just not the right time for me to tackle something that needs an explanation of what is happening in each paragraph. Maybe when I have a year with nothing better to do, or when the arthritis has removed my ability to do anything other than read, or perhaps I'll get one of my grandchildren to read it to me as I lie on my deathbed. Anyway, I'm sure I'll give it another go at some point. 

On the plus side the Manchester Literature Festival is now well under way. I went to my first event last month however, one of the preview events, that saw my wonderful Professor Harari visiting to promote his new book. I did his Coursera course, 'A Brief History of Human Kind' three years ago (unfortunately it no longer seems to be available) and I was so excited to discover he was going to be coming to the festival. His new book, Homo Deus, is an examination of where the human race might be headed next.
I was a little starstruck when I went to get him to sign his book and managed to mumble something barely intelligible about how much I had enjoyed the course, but it was really lovely to see him in person, and he was just like he seemed in the online lectures. 
Last night I did my second event; the most wonderful Lemn Sissay was performing as part of the 8th annual Black and Asian Writers Conference organised by Cultureword at the Contact Theatre. I confess I had not heard any of his poetry previously but knew of him after he was elected Chancellor of Manchester University last year. He approached me in the foyer when he arrived, because I was wearing a MLF volunteer t-shirt, and asked about books for sale, and he was very distressed to find that, due to some very poor communication, there were none. The event, nevertheless, was a roaring success, sold out, and he was so funny and engaging and chatted on during the question and answer session way past the official finish time. 
His new collection is called 'Gold from the Stone'.
I will just give you this poem, called 'Some things I like', which is quite a good example of his style and delivery, though this video is from a couple of years ago. 

1 comment:

  1. If you ask me, life is too short to read Pynchon! On the other hand, meeting a poet or author in person is always memorable. I'm happy to hear you had such good experiences.

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