If festivals are all about drinking in new experiences, then the top of today’s literary cocktail list is the peach mule. Peach because today really was one out of the box, and mule because I walked half the city – but more of that later.
The programme really did have all the ingredients of this sassy and refreshing namesake. An effervescent Audrey Niffenegger fired up a big audience in her session, which would make her the ginger beer. The zesty sprig of mint was delivered in the form of Emily Perkins. The ice was the logic and intellectual rigour of ethical philosopher Peter Singer and financial journalist Rod Oram. The the shot of alcohol came (of course) from the poets, particularly Geoff Cochrane, whose latest work is titled The worm in the tequila.
Strictly speaking a peach mule has peach vodka, but the overall result was spot on – complex, subtle, moreish – just the right match for another stunning Wellington day. I’ll post in more detail on each session a bit later, but here are some of Wednesday’s highlights:
- Emily Perkins shared how hard it was to let go of some pieces of writing that just weren’t working – yet how liberating. Kind of like a break up, she said. “You still want to go back and read the old boyfriends postcards”. She also read an intriguing excerpt of her next book, and told us she was allergic to the “illuminating ending”.
- Peter Singer‘s succinct description of the current global situation: “We’ve got ourselves snookered. We’re not doomed but in a new fix that will test our capacity to make long-term decisions.”
- A great crowd were enthralled by the wit of Audrey Niffenegger, whose novel The time traveller’s wife had such massive success. “I pranced through the experience like Bambi,” she said. Her next book will be The chinchilla girl, about a 9-year-old who is completely covered in hair.
- Derek Johns, author and literary agent, was a bricklayer’s mate in New Zealand back in the day.
- A great range of topics and styles from the poets. Glyn Maxwell’s delivery was energetic and lively, while Kevin Connolly shared a poem about Great Aunt Olive, who used to put out. Kate Camp was beguiling and wise (You can’t listen with your tongue). Geoff Cochrane shared his love of The Embassy Theatre: “No more readings in stripy circus tents.” Ian Wedde remembered his dad and the “inexhaustible fragrance” of linseed oil bottled on Adelaide Road.
- Wonderfully comfortable seats at the theatre – my particular thanks to the friends of Christine Massey for their generosity.
- The mule part of the story was walking around central Wellington snapping photos on a whistle-stop tour of The Revolt of the Mannequins. A lively changing story in the shop windows of downtown, with a sniper, am inspector and a cast of dozens.
- And yes, a peach mule with Kris who’s also blogging the festival.
Remember, there are images on flickr photostream and your comments are welcome at any time.