Do keep popping back and checking out the comments on my One Book, Two Book post, since loads of lovely people have been joining in and popping links in there. Thanks everyone! Not too late to do your own, of course.
On Saturday I was in London for Vintage Classics Day, helping celebrate 21 years of the publisher Vintage. Check out this webpage for a clever mosaic, where you can click on the composite books. They very kindly gave me a complementary ticket to attend a day of talks and things – and it was lovely to see Claire, Sakura, Kim, Jackie, and Lynne who were also attending (Jackie’s link will take you to a great write-up of the day.)
There were a number of sessions of the great and the good discussing classic fiction. The first was about favourite villains, but I think that’s a discussion I’m going to put on hold for another blog post, as I have Strident Views About It.
Up next was a conversation with Rose Tremain. Shamefully I have read zilch by her, but she seemed an interesting and friendly woman – I especially liked what she said about the value of siblings (the inspiration for her latest novel, Trespass) as amongst the few people who have known you all your life. I’m only 25 and, outside my family, I only have one good friend whom I’ve known for more than a decade (Hi Sarah!) so I definitely appreciate Tremain bringing this up. Any suggestions for Tremain novels I should read?
Another talk was inspired by the ‘Orange Inheritance’ thingummy – previous winners of the prize chose books they’d pass on to future generations. I’m a bit disappointed by the selection, which only has one book that I hadn’t heard of (I want them to unearth gems, please, not give us another edition of Thomas Hardy!) But it did lead to a particularly interesting discussion, with Mark Haddon cheering on Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and Lionel Shriver championing Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. It’s always lovely to hear about books that I’ve read and loved, as usually I haven’t read the books being discussed.
My favourite section was celebrityless – a behind-the-scenes chat with Jean, the librarian of Random House’s archive library (I found the new job I want, then, although it did amuse me that they qualify anything worth over £100 as ‘valuable’. In the Bodleian it would have to be worth at least fifty times that.)
And finally Sebastian Faulks spoke about his recent TV series Faulks on Fiction. He says he’s yet to find anyone who saw all four episodes – I confess I only saw the first, but would be interested in watching the rest or reading his book. He was warm and funny, and really seemed to enjoy the session. Like Tremain, he’s an author I’ve never read – except for his witty collection of pastiches, called Pistache.
All in all, it was a really fun day – thanks for inviting me, Vintage! My favourite moment might have been Rose Tremain gossiping a little about A.S. Byatt, or Lionel Shriver telling an audience member (who said she was disappointed by the ending to that Kevin book) that she was enraged. It’s a good job I didn’t mention that I thought Kevin was written appallingly – how odd that someone who appreciates William Maxwell’s expertly subtle writing can overwrite so much! But mostly it was a joy, as it is always a joy, to be in a room filled with people who love books as passionately as I do.
PLUS, this was my first trip to Foyle’s. I didn’t buy anything, because I prefer secondhand books to new ones (bought eight secondhand books on Charing Cross Road…) but I must say it is an impressive selection and a lovely place to hang out. I’ll be back…