From the 12th – 28th August in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens once more becomes the place for book lovers to meet, greet, and be merry as this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival takes up its annual residence. It’s an oasis of calm and conversation in a city gone daft, and it is one of SWH!’s favourite places to be. With that and much more in mind, and to help you find something just for you, here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks of what to see at this year’s book festival.
We have tried to avoid the already sold-out and high-profile to give you an alternative and achievable schedule.
FICTION’S MASTER CRAFTSMAN: James Kelman
– Fri 18 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Having said we have tried to avoid big names, the first pick is one of Scottish literature’s living legends. James Kelman is in town to talk primarily about his latest collection of short stories That Was A Shiver, and Other Stories. There is a body of thought, to which I belong, which believes that while Kelman is one of our great novelists he is an even better short story writer – a master of the art. It is a form which suits not only his style but also the content. What is unarguable is that this is a rare chance to listen to a true artist read and discuss his work. Astonishingly tickets still available at the time of writing, but I would get in there quickly to avoid disappointment. Continue reading
Tomorrow (25/5/2015) finally sees the long-awaited release of John Byrne’s Your Cheatin’ Heart, and the sky should be black with hats in celebration. This was Byrne’s follow up to the better known Tutti Frutti (see A slight bruising of the crotch) and, apart from a slightly dissatisfying final twenty minutes when the drama is searching for a satisfying conclusion, it is the equal of its more famous predecessor, which is just about the greatest praise I can proffer. Taken together, the two six-part series are among the best Scottish TV there has been, and cement John Byrne as an auteur of the highest order.
Your Cheatin Heart is Bryne’s personal vision brought to life. The clothes, the haircuts, the posters, the vehicles, the musical instruments, even the tattoos; all of them carry his signature and distinctive style. It is one thing to do this for the stage, as Byrne has done for his own plays and numerous adaptations, but to realise it for a TV series in this manner is extraordinary. Byrne is at least the match of better known directors such as Wes Anderson and Tim Burton who also create on-screen drama that is recognisably theirs alone.
I don’t wish to be cruel, or at least I don’t enjoy it, but for a few years now the Aye Write! Book Festival has felt like it had lost its way somehow. While there continued to be must attend events, the programming appeared to lack focus and thought, with panels often featuring writers with little in common, or there were similar writers appearing in different rooms at the same time, splitting potential audiences.
I’m genuinely delighted to say, having taking time poring over this year’s programme, that Aye Write! seems to have rediscovered its mojo. You know a festival is on the right lines when it threatens to bankrupt you as you add tickets to your basket. While all successful events rely on a good team, kudos must surely go to Bob McDevitt, this year’s guest programmer, for presiding over such sterling work.