The Festival Bug

CoverThere is a bug doing the rounds and I have got it again. No worries though, because this is The Festival Bug and it is a good bug –  strikes once, lasts forever and engenders feelings of terrific euphoria. What is more, you can get it too!

This time it is The Press Christchurch Writers Festival that has me all a-twitter. I learnt that I was to be part of the library team covering this event whilst sitting in a hot, dark, funky little internet cafe in Durban with a backdrop of blaring township rap.

In the mood to celebrate my good news, I bounced out of the cafe and straight up to Musgrave Centre where I sat myself down with a cappuccino and my best holiday read – the latest Barbara Trapido novel – Sex and Stravinsky. Famous for her first book Brother of the More Famous Jack, I cannot wait to meet this author at the Christchurch Festival.  We grew up in the same city, lived in the same suburb, attended the same University and studied in the same faculty. Then she went on to become rich and famous. Say No More.

It was then that I was struck by how often I have read books in the places where they are set. And we are not talking Lonely Planet travel guides here either, but books like The Bone People by Keri Hulme which I read while on holiday at Okarito and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett,  read in the atmosphere of Norwich Cathedral.  A large part of Sex and Stravinsky is set in Durban and I had a clear view  from the coffee shop of the very escalator that  is mentioned on page 148 in the book. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I am curious to know if any of you have experienced this with books and how it affected you?

The festival has a great line-up and Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean by Simon Winchester is also high on my list. In the spirit of reading books on-site  I asked Greg how he felt about a little Atlantic cruise, with me on deck sipping G&T’s whilst paging through Winchester’s book. His look said it all. I am lucky apparently, but not that lucky!

14 thoughts on “The Festival Bug

  1. bronnypop 30 August 2010 / 11:01 am

    I had the same experience with Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead, although with an element of ‘time-travel’ thrown in. Anyone raised in ChCh or educated at Canty will be instantly transported back to the Student Union building and the outdoor amphitheatres, afternoons spent at Deans Bush, and galloping around the Gardens and inner city. Who’d have thought we lived in such an atmospheric city?
    I’m really looking forward to seeing Karen Healey at her book launch, and hopefully even getting a chance to interview her, so I can ask all sorts of questions about how she managed this brilliant evocation of time and place.

    • robertafsmith 30 August 2010 / 2:18 pm

      I love the idea of a bit of time travel added to the mix!

  2. Marion Hale 30 August 2010 / 4:00 pm

    My experience was with On the grapevine by Linda Burgess – largely set in Palmerston North in the 90s. There had been a 3 cinema complex opened in Palmy that she talked about that made me feel particularly nostalgic. I was back in Christchurch by then and I certainly felt the pull of Palmy – yes it is a real thing. I still look back fondly on my time there studying and working at the university.

    • robertafsmith 30 August 2010 / 4:29 pm

      Sometimes I think that is why I went to University – to create the memories!

  3. helen 30 August 2010 / 5:31 pm

    Forgot to tell you about the book I have just finished reading whilst in South Africa, set in Cape Town, title “whiplash” written by Tracey Farren set in and around Muizenberg,
    description on the back of the book, “raw, tender and laugh out loud, a gritty emotional landscape” that says it all but you will recognize so many of the places!! Trish says its one book she wouldn’t part with.
    Can’t wait to hear about Barbara Trapido

  4. Valerienl 30 August 2010 / 5:34 pm

    I haven’t had that rather odd experience, but I have often read a book and not long aferwards – walked the same streets as the characters. I was in Edinburgh not long after reading “Greyfriars Bobby” walking the very cobbled streats described by Eleanor Atkinson.
    Nice to see that you have so much in common with Barbara Trapido. Just think what wihh happen when your blog is turned into a best selling novel and Hollywood movie, you will be at so many festivals, you will need to Tweet instead of blog.

  5. Allison 31 August 2010 / 4:28 am

    I’m the wrong person to be commenting on this but has that ever stopped me? It brings out my curmudgeonly streak (let ’em suffer) to read books written by former South Africans getting misty-eyed about their youth in SA while sipping gin in Oxford.
    Get back here, dammit! Or lose your street cred.
    Right! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me add that I love Barbara Trapido’s writing and intend to make an exception in her case.

    • robertafsmith 31 August 2010 / 7:14 am

      I read somewhere that as she gets older she feels more and more strongly that she wants to “get back”, but suspects that she is no longer accepted as a South African. Well, it has been a long, long time and much has happened. On a different note, have just read a very Now book by a South African living in SA about SA as it is to-day – called The Road to Absalom by Michael Gastrow. Published by Mousehand (Ingi’s self publishing wing of Readhill.) Please read and crit. Lots of legal shenannigans in it.

      • Allison 1 September 2010 / 8:28 pm

        Ooooh! Will check it out. There used to be an MP called Peter Gastrow. Wonder if it’s his son. Something that’s always puzzled me is how to get hold on a publish on demand book. Obviously distribution is up to the author, though. I’ll check Kalahari. I know that Exclusives charges a fat whack to stock your book (as much as 60% of the cover price). Otherwise I’ll contact Ingi.

  6. robertafsmith 2 September 2010 / 8:27 am

    Hi Allison, if you go to Mousehand South Africa and click on the particular book cover, at the bottom of the page there are links to four different suppliers. This book is good, but I know you didn’t want to read Damon Galgut’s The Imposter and they are not unalike.

  7. Allison 3 September 2010 / 1:31 am

    Thanks! I’ll follow it up.
    Any news of whether you’ve got the Trapido interview yet?

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