Yesterday Max went to see author and illustrator Jim Smith, then he attended the pop vocal coaching session. Here is his review:
‘On Monday I went to see Carrie and David Grant. They were doing pop vocal coaching, which was good but aimed for younger people.
I also went to see Jim Smith author of I am (not) a Loser which was excellent because he told us how to draw Barry Loser here is some of my work 😎’ (see picture above)
I must confess to (shock horror) not being too aware of the works of Edna O’Brien before yesterday’s session. I went along because I knew she was a hugely popular writer, and I love to hear her speak.
It’s was a bit of a revelation, listening to her talk about her harsh childhood, her disastrous marriage, and subsequent exile to London. She admits to being “more serious about the truth as I reach my eighties”. She read us a passage from her memoirs, Country Girl, an evocative account of her earliest memories as a young girl in the house where she grew up. When reading, Edna O’Brien always wants to “enter into the mind and soul of the writer – and I want my readers to experience the same”.
Following her literary exile to London, after Ireland banned her books, she told us how it was seen as a direct betrayal of her people back home, and how difficult it was to be writing away from the sources that inform her stories. Such is her urge to write, she concludes, “if I could not write, I think I would go mad.”
Turning from the sadder episodes in her life, she spoke of the infamous parties she held at her house in London, a world away from her early years.
When asked for advice from an aspiring writer in the audience, she said: “keep reading great things, memorise what you read, be hard on yourself. In other words, it requires the dedication of a Samurai, set yourself high standards.”
A quick review from ten year old Max on his weekend at the festival :
‘On Saturday I went to see the Etherington Brothers, they were really funny and were really good. Also on Saturday I went to see Eric Schmidt and he told me all about a little micro chip which you swallow (I want one!) On Sunday I went to see ‘What is Contemporary Art?’ and I learnt a lot and got their autograph and their book.’
Check back here later for more reviews of yesterday’s events and possibly another word or two from Max!
Audrey Niffenegger, probably best known for her novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, tells us all about her other life as a graphic novelist, artist and professor of art – which has recently resulted in her recent work, The Raven Girl, being transformed into a ballet by Wayne McGregor.
She had always carried the character of Raven Girl around in her head, and the novel/ballet she tells us is a ‘transformation fairy tale’, where the girl believes she is part raven and wishes to become one. Fairy tales, as we know, are where belief is suspended, no characters are ever surprised about anything that happens, a bit like a dream according to Niffenegger.
She also described the intricate and time consuming process of creating a graphic novel, and tells us how her illustrations are there to add an extra dimension to the story, rather than to reflect the actual narrative on the page. It’s hard to imagine how this could be turned into a ballet, but she told us how she was amazed at what McGregor has managed to achieve. The music was composed by Gabriel Yared, who won an Oscar for the score of The English Patient.
We were then treated to an insight into her new book, which had been put on the back burner for a few years while The Raven Girl being created; The Chinchilla Girl in Exile. The story of a girl who has a condition which means her body is covered in hair, and instead of being an outsider, is revered by her village. It explores the relationships she has with two childhood friends, Sylvie (who believes she is half fairy) and Max who is an ordinary boy who will grow up to be an artist.
Niffenegger’s novels always have a very creative and unusual dimension, Sarah Crompton observed, we look forward to the ballet and the new novel!
It’s always the same at Hay, the first day on tour. Somehow I always manage to have far too many events to see, with barely a moment to fit in a comfort break, grab a sandwich or even have time to write up reviews of my events which is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s all part of the excitement of being here at Hay for another year of seeing authors, commentators, comedians and musicians to name but a few. There is something here for everyone!
Melvyn Bragg talked about his new book Grace and Mary, drawing parallels with his own family life; old friends Hugh Dennis and Marcus Brigstock chatted about who had the most ‘normal’ school before Hugh told us about his new book, Britty Britty Bang Bang. In it he muses on a post Olympic and post Jubilee Britain: ‘this is brilliant’ ‘this is fantastic’ ‘who is that?’and ‘did we do that?’ it was then a quick dash to see twitter queen and women’s champion Caitlin Moran, who talks at the speed of a runaway train, so I could not do her justice here by trying to review her slot. Suffice to say, her book How to be a Woman is now on my reading list.
Phill Jupitus was off the wall in his new show, masquerading as a German Submarine captain who died in 1945, projected into the future to talk to us about his life. After an audible murmur from the audience (should we really be laughing about this, is it ok?) questions were plentiful, the answers suitable random and funny. A show in two parts, the second consisted of a hologram (!) in the form of Phillip Jupitus who dies in 2052 and is projected back to us to reflect on his life – this was a unique and very funny show, a world away from his Live at the Apollo set, relying heavily on improvisation.
We then hurried over to see KT Tunstall perform songs from her new album. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a voice with such haunting clarity and perfect tone, her new songs are quite beautiful. The biggest cheer of the night went to the upbeat number, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Her new album is now on my shopping list, I think she gained many new fans tonight.