The Press Writers Festival 2008

I’ve been trying to decide what to go to in the Press Writers Festival. At mostly $15 a pop the sessions seem a bit pricey, so I am going to limit myself to three. Another I will definitely go to (and not just because it is free) is Francis Spufford. Anyone who can describe the process of learning to read thus: “Twenty-six years since the furze of black marks between the covers of “The Hobbit” grew lucid and released a dragon.”, The Child that Books Built, p. 4, has to be worth hearing.


I am currently enjoying his Backroom Boys; the secret return of the British boffin.

Another author I hope to hear is Australian Marion Halligan. She is an excellent writer and her two recent forays in the mystery genre, The Apricot Colonel (love the pun) and Murder on the Apricot Coast are a delight.

I am sure that Xinran is an excellent writer and will be well worth hearing, but it does seem that every book festival since Wild Swans was published in 1991 has featured a Chinese writer on the Cultural Revolution and its effects. Professor Paul Clark of Auckland University evidently has similar feelings. Interviewed in the New Zealand Listener recently he describes his own book The Chinese Cultural revolution: a history as “… my anti-Wild Swans book.” (New Zealand Listener 23 August 2008, p.28-29).

The Joy of Giving – Cruel book choices

Oranges are not the only fruit
Oranges are not the only fruit

Did you Outrageous Fortune watchers out there spot the book Loretta gave Casey for her birthday? Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson. It’s a compelling story of a young girl from an evangelist family and her lesbian relationship. After Casey’s sapphic scandal, it is a cutting choice.

Can you think of other examples where the giving of books are a weapon? There’s always the healthy living book for someone on the porky side, or the anger management book for someone with a fiery temper.

Clutter clinic
Clutter clinic

For me the cruellest gift would be a copy of The Clutter Clinic. I got it out of the library to see if I could get some advice on how to overhaul my over-stuffed bijou flat. It’s all the rage on tv at the moment too with the show The Big Stuff (I’ve only seen the ads – scary scary).

I didn’t like this book – the photos seem to show a room and then it tidied up a bit. Plus it felt like everything needs to be hidden in boxes (not such a bad idea). And the author said you can’t have any collections. That was the final blow. You can’t tell a librarian not to have collections.

What’s the meanest book you’ve ever been given/or given someone?