Review: David Lodge talks to Stephanie Merritt

Lodge began with a lengthy reading from ‘A Man of Parts’ his new biographical novel about HG Wells, before Stephanie Merritt asked him why he had chosen to write a novel rather than a biography.

Novelists of advancing years start to run out of life experiences on which to draw, so someone else’s life can provide a source, said Lodge. The use of fictional form allows for more dialogue and more narrative although Lodge made it clear that everything of consequence in the book is founded in fact.

Lodge feels that though Wells was flawed in many respects he was very aware of, and honest about his own weaknesses. “His ability to foresee things that would happen to society was quite uncanny.” Although he was a Fabian he wasn’t really a socialist, more of an idealist with an impractical vision based on an optimistic world view. Though this diminished in later life.

Wells was a contradictory character in many respects; a womaniser and a feminist, confident and insecure, comic and serious. Lodge is also disinclined to be categorised as a comic novelist “this isn’t a comic novel, though it does have humour in it”.

Sun’s out and the forecast is good

One of the joys of the festival is taking in the compact attractions of the market town especially when the weather is good.

It’s warm and bright and the forecast is set fair for the rest if the week so we’re making hay whilst the sun shines. A wander through the quaint streets with bookshops at every turn and a ramble through the castle is followed by a visit to the Hay Festival’s younger left field cousin ‘HowTheLightGetsIn’.

Put the wellies away, the shades, shorts and sandal weather is around the corner.

Unbound sheds light on new way to publish

A publishing venture for the new age was unveiled yesterday in a purpose-built shed at the Hay Festival.  Unbound aims to connect writers with readers in new ways.

The Unbound web site hosts author’s ‘pitches’ for new books and if you like the idea, you can become a sponsor, when the target number of sponsors is reached the deal is done and the author can go ahead and start writing.  There are different levels of support, from simply pledging to buy an ebook through to tickets for the launch party and even lunch with the author. Sponsors also have access to the author’s private area of the website or ‘shed’ where there will be updates on the book’s progress and exclusive interviews.

The beautifully bound, limited edition hardback even comes printed with the sponsors names.  Several authors are already signed up including Terry Jones who is the first off the mark with a sponsor.  You can check out and even support the current projects on the Unbound site.

Review: David Baddiel talks to David Aaronovitch

Perhaps it was the relatively early hour or maybe the relentless drizzle that has set in at Hay, which kept people in their beds. The Barclays Wealth Pavillion was only about half full for the writer who famously as a comedian was the first with Rob Newman, to sell out at Wembley.

Nevertheless a pack of press photographers dashed to the front of the stage and drew Baddiel’s fire “are you going to be here the whole time it’s fucking distracting”.

He was here principally to talk about his new novel ‘The Death of Eli Gold’. Eli is the survivor of a suicide pact with his fourth wife (it’s on the flyleaf so I’m not spoiling here). Another of the central charachters is Eli’s 44 year old son, Harvey. Aaronovitch is quite disparaging about Harvey; Baddiel reveals that many people on Twitter have said that Harvey is much like the the author, an observation with which he clearly does not entirely disagree. The book, from which the author reads, is compassionate, complex, awkward and amusing.

Baddiel is intelligent and funny (and so is Aaronovitch) and this was a highly entertaining session. The missing half of the audience unquestionably missed out.

Naipaul and Theroux bury the past

A veil was drawn over an epic literary feud at the Hay Festival. Paul Theroux and VS Naipaul ceased hostilities with a handshake in the green room.

The rapprochement was brokered by Ian McEwan who encouraged Theroux to offer his hand to his erstwhile mentor and friend . “I miss you,”  said Theroux. Naipaul replied  “I miss you too”.

“We’ve finally spoken,” said Paul Theroux who had already expressed his enjoyment of the festival to a packed Hay audience. “I’ve had an experience today with a capital E.”  VS Naipaul, who also enjoyed a capacity audience told visitors “It was very nice to see him and I’m pleased things have worked out the way they have.”