is run by vintage books / doubleday
i don't have any input
and i don't see any of the comments...
predictably it has far more visitors )
'sirpeter', he of the book-distributing canalboat (see below) took a photo of me in return. which seems like a nice little metaphor for the workings of world book night as a whole. using books as a way of starting conversations and building links and making contact with strangers and celebrating community in all its strange and wonderful manifestations.i hope he doesn't mind me borrowing his photo.
i've just been out for a walk. coming down the oxford canal was this boat of 5 cheery blokes giving away copies of the reluctant fundamentalist by mohsin hamid for world book night. my heart soared. this whole thing is genius.
big open air event last night in trafalgar square to inaugurate world book night. a huge crowd of people gathering to hear readings by margaret atwood, monica ali, philip pullman, john le carré and myself among others. we all felt a bit like rock stars, but edna o-brian and alan bennet and edna o-'brien got warmer receptions than the actual rock stars nick cave and rupert everett. jamie byng and fiona mcmorrough, who came up with the crazy idea and made it work, have, i think invented something both new and glorious, gathering thousands of people together not to sing along and pogo down the front, but to be very still and quiet and simply listen. it was magical.
nick hider has some photos of the even on flicker (here) which are rather better than mine (below). it wasn't until i saw them that i realised how great the stage looked from out front, especially that logo running up nelson's column...
by alexandra harris
i did eng lit at university and have been saddled ever since with a joyce / woolf / ben nicholson / gaudier brzeska / wells coates model of british modernism. all white spaces and restless experiment and really uncomfortable chairs. in opposition to which there seemed to be a provincial reactionary tradition. eric ravilious, cecil beaton, stanley spencer, vaughn williams. this is a book about the fallacy of that division, about how most artists moved across that supposed border or happily straddled it (laszlo moholy-nagy really did provide the photos for a book about oxford written by john betjeman). It is also a book about the importance for inter-war british artists of place, of weather, of archaeology, of gardens, of tea-shops and churches, of 'land' in all its many manifestations, a land that was soon to be placed under a very real threat.
it has become a commonplace of fiction-writing that one cannot be truly universal without being truly local. foolishly i'd never thought about applying it to this period.
after finishing the book i cranked up spotify to listen to some arthur bliss and vowed to overcome my prejudice and buy a book about john piper (it's his wonderful collage of dungeness which is on the book's cover). then i went on holiday and found myself drawing landscapes, which hasn't happened for a while.
a documentary by eva weber which i was watching the other night. tranquil, poetic, beautiful, weird, revelatory. none of that talking heads bollocks you get with most documentaries. no narrator at all, in fact. just film of, and from, cranes in the centre of london, with music and with commentary from the drivers. this amazing world of sunsets and roofs and silence and a hundred tiny human dramas behind a hundred windows. it's rather like being an angel.
you can see it online at channel 4 (here) with a load of annoying and unavoidable adverts and no fast forward facility, but it demands a bigger better screen with better resolution. it's about panoramas, after all.
you can, however, buy a dvd from odd girl out productions who have a very nice website devoted to the film (here).