Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Tales from the city-the second, (and third). Talking (about) books.

You CAN judge a book by looking at the cover
One of the main reasons for going to Edinburgh at festival time, is to take in the decidedly civilised ambience of the Book Festival. Unlike the somewhat frantic hubbub of the city streets, Charlotte Square remains an oasis, and the events scheduled have a good chance of being successfully as advertised, something often lacking in the Fringe! (Mind you they do need to provide more seating in the cafe/bar areas!)

To the Square first to listen to Jon Gray and Jamie Keenan, expound their Twenty irrefutable theories of book cover design. Keenan and Gray are both exceptional book cover designers, whose styles seem to be both very different, and to fit together neatly. (see Jamie Keenan designs here, and some Jon Gray here It is no surprise to find they have previously worked together, and you will find yourself spotting books that you have noticed in shops (which after all, is the point) as you look at their portfolios.

The ‘Twenty theories’ covered a vast range of ideas, and principles, from standard design rules (on use of white space for example), to specific book considerations (not revealing important plot twists etc.). However the presentation needed trimming to get the best effect in the 45 mins available. Not yet available on line or in print (a book is in preparation), my favourite was the last. #20 When all else fails, use a picture of a cute kitten !  Jen Bowden in the Guardian has helped by listing the theories here. 

Another book-related presenting pair (aren’t they all book-related? Stop splitting hairs!) were John Crace and John Sutherland. Crace is the Guardian’s ‘Abbreviated Books’ columnist, parodying and condensing modern and classic fiction. He treated us to both David Copperfield, and Antonia Fraser’s memoir of Pinter, showing both sides of his work - homage to satire! The fact that he is a great Spurs fan too, helps my appreciation of him immensely!

John Sutherland
John Sutherland, was an academic lecturer in English Literature. The author of ‘Can Jane Eyre be happy’ and Where was Rebecca shot?’, he is used to approaching the classics from unusual angles. His current book Lives of the Novelists sets out to provide a huge history of fiction in 294 lives. As his examples from Stevenson and Scott proved, his penchant for an oblique eye has not been lost!

Future Festival Blogs
One of the problems re blogging on festival events is that if you’re at them, you’re not talking about them, and before you get round to do that, they’re finished (a bit like the 1960's really).  So I thought I’d do some more reflective stuff (code for too lazy to meet deadlines - lets hear it for Douglas Adams!). Look out for blogs on Past Labour ‘Leaders’, Oratory in politics, Franco and Spain and (in particular) Saying ‘Thanks’ to bus drivers.

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