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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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James Yorkston at Edinburgh Book Festival

There is a copy of singer James Yorkston’s book, It’s Lovely To Be Here: The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent, in our house.  I know because I bought it as a birthday present for my flat mate, who says it’s very good. Unfortunately I haven’t borrowed it yet, mainly because my mighty pyramid of to-read books is so enormous it hurts my brain.  Still, that didn’t stop me going to see Mr Yorkston talking about it with Ian Rankin at the book festival over the weekend.

It was a great event, the atmosphere was very friendly and there was cheery banter aplenty.  After a brief overview of his new guitar (made from Tazmanian blackwood, spruce and Brazilian Rosewood), Rankin began by asking about Yorkston’s background.

He grew up in Fife and attended Madras college in St Andrews, a few years below Kenny (King Creosote) Anderson and amongst such luminaries as KT Tunstall and Steve Mason from The Beta Band.  Listening to him describe his early years “dancing with my across the road neighbour, Vic Galloway (a BBC Scotland presenter and DJ) like dafties on the lawn,” it strikes me the East Neuk is overdue an Almost Famous style look at the music scene – there are so many artists compressed into that area it’s a bit ridiculous.

Apparently Yorkston wrote his first song at the age of 8, him on electric guitar and Galloway on banjo. “It went, baa baa goes the cow, moo moo goes the sheep, woof woof goes the hippopotamus and they all went to sleep.”

I felt exactly like Cameron Crowe as I typed that up, seriously.  This could work.

Continue reading “James Yorkston at Edinburgh Book Festival”

Joe Dunthorne at Edinburgh Book Festival

This morning I went to my first reading of the Edinburgh Book Festival, where I was greeted at the Spiegeltent by a man wielding free coffee.  I have never been more pleased to see anyone – I really needed some coffee.  I didn’t realize how much until I tried to milk it with another jug of coffee, at which point someone asked me if I was there from The Scotsman.  I take heart that whoever is covering the book festival from there is as dazed and confused as I am first thing.

Suitably caffeined I sat down to await the arrival of the author, Joe Dunthorne (probably best known for his first novel, Submarine, which was made into a film this year starring Paddy Considine and Maria out of the Sarah Jane Adventures).  All around me people were reading; which is a truly beautiful thing but it made me feel like a bit of a freak because I was scribbling away in a notebook.  In red ink, no less.  I consoled myself with the fact that some of the best novels are written in red ink, even though I have no evidence to support such a statement.

Then the man himself appeared, optimistically clad in shorts, and explained a bit about the reading he was going to do from his new book, Wild Abandon.  The scene was based in a commune in the Gower in South Wales, he said, and contained a lot of different characters (as is the nature of such places).

It was really good.  Continue reading “Joe Dunthorne at Edinburgh Book Festival”

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