Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cold but eventful

I'm still not getting much writing done, not on the page or the laptop anyway. The roof is finished at long last - I no longer feel as if I have people clonking about all over my scalp! - but I'm dashing about at the moment between cities and the countryside: all very exciting and stimulating when you spend most of your time at a desk, and of course, all grist to the mill while everything's churning over subconsciously.

Last weekend I was in London and spent a really lovely afternoon at a reception to celebrate the life and work of the Maigret novelist Georges Simenon. I hadn't read him before but spent the days beforehand making up the lack and becoming fascinated - by both the writing and the life: Maigret wrote almost 400 novels as well as short stories, at one point being contracted to produce a novel a month, yet the Maigrets are not by any means pulp fiction: written in a plain, economical prose, they're atmospheric with an important psychological dimension, and his romans durs, his 'hard novels', which I haven't tackled yet, are reported to be superior. As part of a resurgence of interest in Simenon, Penguin, publishers of Maigret since the fifties, are in the process of publishing new translations of every single one of his novels. I blogged about it all on Fictionbitch here.

In all of the Maigret novels I read, the weather was an important aspect of the atmosphere - hard frost, or incessant rain - so it seemed entirely appropriate that the weather was bitter, as it so often has been this June. Optimistically stepping out in a linen dress and jacket last Saturday morning in Manchester, since London was forecast to be warm, I encountered a driving cold rain and rushed back for a cardi to get me to balmy London, where I'd surely be taking it off. Some hope - I was freezing the whole weekend, and had to borrow a woollen coat from my host!

It seems that it's been warmer in London since, but it's stayed cold up north and in North Wales where John and I were by Thursday, so once again the weather seemed appropriate when American debut novelist and literary sensation Rebecca Dinerstein came to Caernarfon on her British book tour to read in the lovely Palas Print Bookshop garden from The Sunlit Night, her novel set in chilly north Norway. Although a new novelist, Rebecca is an expert and very charming performer (she's also an award-winning poet), and the sections she read were engaging and very well written. And there was amazing food thematically connected with the book, provided by Oren chef Gert Vos: Jewish sourdough bialys, blueberry and cardamom cake and Norwegian Jarlsberg cheesecake. 

Here's Rebecca after her reading:

And here's some of the food, already well and truly attacked:

Next week, of course, I'm off to Norwich to read along with other contributors to Unthology 7 - hope it warms up a bit by then!

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