Friday, May 02, 2014

Launch of Emma Unsworth's Animals and the question of clothes

I don't think I've ever been to such a well attended launch as Emma Unsworth's last night at Waterstone's, Deansgate, for her new novel, Animals (Canongate)

Emma warned us beforehand that the book was 'filthy', and the extract she read didn't disappoint in terms of anarchy and bad behaviour. Animals comes recommended by Caitlin Moran who calls it 'Withnail with girls', but Emma reckons her best recommendation comes from her mum who told her dad, when he said he wanted to read it, 'No, you don't want to read it, Frank.'

Emma had generously invited others to read at the event, Robert Williams, Greg Thorpe, chef Mary Ellen McTague, and the music-and-words duo Les Malheureux that is writers David Gaffney and Sarah-Clare Conlon, so it was a very full and buzzy evening.

Those who know me well will know that I'm bonkers about clothes and dressing up - though I know you wouldn't think it, the old rags I wear most of the time (since I spend most of my time writing), and pop out to the shops in, or the samey safe things I pull on at the last minute to go out because I've been writing up to the wire and just haven't got time or space in my head to think creatively about clothes. As a result, my wardrobe and trunk and many drawers are stuffed full of charity-shop finds I hardly ever wear. Anyway, I'm in that haitus where you've come to the point in a big project when you can't go any further with it as you're waiting for your first readers' comments, and you don't want to push it from your head by working on other things (and don't have the creative energy anyway). Sometimes I spend such periods sending stories off, but I have no stories I'm ready to let go without further work, so yesterday I actually did some wardrobe sorting (for the first time in a long, long time) and discovered clothes I'd long forgotten about, but which seem to have come back into fashion! Trouble is, though, of course, nationwide or global fashion is never the same as the look sported by particular groups, and quite often, as last night, it's so long since I've been out that I've no idea what people are wearing. So off I went safely dressed in black leggings and leather jacket, most curious to see what folks were wearing to literary dos nowadays. And it turned out: anything and everything. There was Emma looking like Marilyn Monroe in her little black dress, there was novelist Jenn Ashworth in the most glorious fuschia-coloured tights, writer Maria Roberts with a fabulous bright-yellow jacket, and outfits from suit jackets to pretty dresses to sporty gear. 

I know what you're thinking: 'And as a writer she's supposed to be serious-minded!' But the two things are linked, in my view, the clothes and the literature. In the Manchester lit scene it's individual creativity that's all the rage.

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