Feverish anticipation is a must before fully enjoying any event, and counting the sleeps is well under way for 2010 New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week at the New Zealand International Arts Festival.
I’m going to lots of events, but full fandom is reserved for Neil Gaiman (overseas division), Don McGlashan (domestic) and The Arrival (Australian).
With Gaiman it’s the writer as phenomenon aspect that’s really interesting. Sure he’s written some great books, but so have lots of other writers.
But this is the man the New Yorker called Kid Goth in one of those hugely long stories you only get if you’re a really big deal; the man who is engaged to Amanda Palmer, the man who smiled proudly on the red carpet at the Golden Globes while she changed her knickers and stayed good natured (“it is a very good thing for a shy author to have a famous and extroverted fiancee”) when captioned as her ‘friend’ even though he was there for Coraline.
Twenty years of The Sandman. Will the Town Hall be full of “twee bisexual Goth Girls with BPD who are drama majors and who are destined to become cat ladies”? I can only hope – they sound like my kind of crowd.
Don McGlashan is above such base concerns; he’ll just be great, he always is. Strictly speaking he’s not part of Writers and Readers but he wrote most of the wonderful words he’ll be singing and that counts.
The Arrival is also a performance but it’s based on a book, so that counts too. Four years ago at the Festival Shaun Tan, the narrative artist and “West Australian wunderkind”, spoke about the book he was working on. It was to be something new, based on archival photographs of immigrants in the twentieth century. That book was The Arrival and it is a masterpiece of graphic art. If the stage adaptation is half as good as the book it should be overwhelming.
As for the rest of them, this year I’m attending as a person rather than a librarian so it’s going to be trivia all the way, none of this worthy stuff about writing methods and how long they write each day or where they do it or when.
It’ll be what they’re wearing, how old their author photos are, the relative corkiness and screwiness of their corkscrew curls (Neil Gaiman and Kate de Goldi – curl off. My money’s on de Goldi who outcurled Margaret Atwood).
And that’s just the authors. Equally enjoyable are the insidious comparisons between the Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch audiences. Best-dressed? Best mannered? Worst mannered? Best male-female ratio? Youngest? Most matching/confounding of stereotypes?
Also the awarding of imaginary awards for the most pompous question, the most nakedly ambitious question, the best “it’s all about me” question and the question that takes longer than the answer.
Will they have a festival T-shirt?