Edinburgh International Book Festival

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The literary spectrum

One of the more controversial events I went to at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival was a debate about YA fiction. For example, what is ‘Young Adult,’ as it potentially seems to go from before early teen to early twenties. Among the highlights were the assertions that ’90% of all books are c**p,’ ‘Nobody over 20 should ever be reading YA novels,’ and ‘Nobody should read John Greene books.’ Light-hearted, then.

My starting point for all this is that much of it is subjective. What you like I might not, and vice versa. And there are enough books that I’ve hated when I was younger, then rediscovered later and really enjoyed.

You might have noticed that James Patterson (and whoever he is collaborating with this time) is pulling a book based on Stephen King being killed, or at least someone trying to do that. James Patterson has sold more books that anyone else on the planet and Stephen King is quite something as a writer. But King said a few years ago that Patterson is ‘a terrible writer but he’s very successful.’ He also said that YA writer Stephenie Meyer – you’ll know her from the Twilight series – ‘can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.’


And of course Stephen King has written a book about writing. You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you had probably better pay attention and not dismiss that much experience and talent. And he clearly has strong views on what is good and what is not.

Something that has plagued me from my school English days is the notion that some books are more worthy than others. The book I have the most vivid memories of from those classes? Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. The worst thing I had ever had to read. Out loud in the class in most lessons, I remember that as well. But it was considered to have more literary merit than the countless other books I chose to read, none of which ever came up in English.

There is a spectrum of styles of books, from the impenetrable novels with forgettable characters who do very little, but are described in exquisite detail, using beautiful language. And there is James Patterson towards the other end of the spectrum, with a style which you really cannot stop reading. I know this having read three of his in two days, one just to see how he dealt with a particular structural issue I was grappling with. There is a reason he sells more books than anyone else, but you wouldn’t think of his books as pushing the boundaries of what the novel can ‘do’ (I heard that more than a few times at the Book Festival, apparently it’s what we should be doing.)

I’ll be honest. The books the literary critics love tend to be the ones I often struggle with, and am never quite sure they were worth the effort in the end. Sometimes I’m told they are books you have to read twice. I think, if I didn’t like it the first time round, why would I do it all again when I could read something else instead? Fine, so I’m probably a literary Philistine. I can live with that. There are exceptions, of course, but I’ve always been much more drawn to the interesting characters and the compelling stories than to the use of words. It’s not that I can’t appreciate the latter, it’s just that it can be too much, and get in the way of the story (= cardinal sin for me as a reader). For me, in the end, novels are storytelling, and that’s where you can’t teach the James Pattersons and Stephen Kings of the world very much, even though their books are completely different in style and theme.

I am still making sure that I do read a wide range of books. You can’t subsist on James Patterson alone if you want to learn more about writing, but equally, Tolstoi and Dostoyevsky (who, according to the ‘nobody over 20 should be reading YA’ contributor we should be reading instead) are probably never going to make it onto my reading list.

So, on the YA point, why do I think it’s perfectly fine for me to read YA novels, and that I should not be restricting myself to the literary end of the market?

The obvious answer is that I will read them as part of a wide range of books. Yes, they can be pretty derivative. Dystopian world, boy meets girl, repeat. I would be concerned for my mental wellbeing if all I read – or wanted to read – were those kinds of books but, if nothing else, they are good for a break, a change of style and pace, and a story that trots along happily.

I think novels serve a wide range of ‘purposes.’ One of them – a good one, in my view – is to entertain. A life of constant challenge, forcing myself to get through books because they are supposed to be ‘good’ for me leads to reading less, and that can never be a good thing. I don’t read Twilight (yes, I was reading them well before they became famous) to see how language can be used differently, I read them for the fun story that I can zip through. And then I’ll pick up something set in Victorian England and experience what life might have been like for a young woman on her own. Different experiences for sure. I like the variety.

I have daughters who read these YA books. It’s nice to be able to talk about the books with them, in the same way it’s nice to watch some films with them that I wouldn’t personally gravitate towards. I’ve introduced the girls to the concept of ‘proper’ films and books, as opposed to lightweight but fun ones, and we try to vary what we watch and read. Balance is usually a good thing. Having conversations with your children is also a good thing, and talking about books is a great thing to be able to do. Even if one of them is about 2/3 of the way through War and Peace and I’m with Woody Allen on that one (I’ve told her this) – ‘I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.’

There are many different ways of telling a story. I find that seeing as many as possible can only be a good thing as a writer because we can learn from every other author. Even if it’s only just what never, ever, to do (yup, there are some dreadful books out there, but remember that it’s subjective, others seem to have enjoyed the same book I found appalling – wonderful!).

There are writers somewhere in the middle, who have found a way of dealing with complex themes in a very engaging style. Jodi Picoult always springs to mind. Douglas Kennedy is another favourite of mine and I’m never quite sure why he’s not better known. And Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes beautifully (even in translation) and tells wonderful stories.


There is plenty of space out there for different styles and approaches. I like keeping my mind open to everything that’s out there. And I am very clear that, in my own writing, I gravitate towards what I like reading. But that doesn’t mean I don’t learn a lot from the writers who play with the language in a way that just amazes me. Imagine if we could take the best of all of them. Maybe someone has and I just haven’t found that book yet.


I am spending more time on photography than I was expecting to. And I have been thinking about perspective. I’m still using a camera with a fixed lens (ie no zoom) so if I want to change my perspective, I have to move. And it struck me that this is an analogy for life. If we want to change our perspective, we have to move from where we are. Otherwise, we will only see the same thing whenever we look.

In fiction, perspective matters a lot. As a writer, you have a number of choices. First person – ‘I ran.’ Second person – ‘you ran.’ No, don’t do that. Please just don’t do that. Third person – ‘he ran’. And then there is tense. ‘I was running towards the gate, my arms reaching out to catch the baby before she fell.’ Or ‘I am running towards the gate, my arms reaching out to catch the baby before she falls.’ One has happened, one is happening in the moment. Both perspective and tense change the feel of the story and how we relate to it. Some books mix tenses and perspective, sometimes effectively, sometimes annoyingly. One author at the Edinburgh International Book Festival was adamant that ‘you should only ever use the first person singular if you have a very specific reason to do so.’ And I realised that over half the books I had read in the previous few weeks were written in that tense. Writers have  as many different perspectives on their work as much as in any other occupation. And the Book Festival has been invaluable in hearing different perspectives.

The other beauty of fiction is that it can help us to challenge our current perspective. We are forced (albeit willingly) to adopt the perspective of someone else, someone who will never share the same views as us. Even an autobiography will show a development in the author’s views over time. We are not the same person at 40 as we were at 20. Now I have to accept that ‘living’ a life through a novel is not the same as actually living that life. There is only so much that can ever be put into a character in a book. And yet. There is evidence that visualising something mimics the experience of doing that activity, not completely, but at least partially. Athletes know this well. My favourite example of this is Michael Phelps. During one race, his goggles began to fill up with water and he was unable to see properly in the water. He closed his eyes and kept going, executing perfect turns at exactly the right time. He set a new world record in that swim, because he visualises the perfect swim every night, then tries to perform it the next day. When trouble struck, he already knew what to do and simply performed what he had already seen in his mind (and practiced so often).

Some of the books that have had the most memorable impact on me are ones where I cannot now remember the character’s name, but where they gave me a different perspective on something I had no experience of – and in most cases, never will. I remember the feeling of being that person for a while. Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home is a good example of this – a woman loses a baby she has longed for and finds her marriage at an end, and is surprised when she finds love with another woman. The book is not preachy, it just gives the reader a different perspective. I think part of the enduring impact of religious works is their attempt to give us a different perspective on our lives, on our relationships with each other, and to think differently about our place in the universe. Books can educate, entertain, and they can offer us a different perspective on life.

So back to the photography.

Here is a really boring street, the kind of one we walk past every day without paying any attention.


And here is the same street at night (two variants – neither manipulated by me other than by waiting for the sky to darken even more so the orange would dominate the scene).

Night 1

Night 2

Harder to walk past without noticing. Unsurprisingly, I took the evening photos first as the scene caught my attention immediately, then went back days later to take another shot of the same street during the day (which I will now delete, as it has no value other than to illustrate the point!).

And here is a bridge – three perspectives, all of them having a slightly different impact, just from taking a step forward or crouching down.

Bridge 1

Bridge 2

Bridge 3

We will not change our perspective and learn to see the world differently if we are never prepared to move from where we already are. We already know where that is and what it looks like. It might be better or worse from somewhere else, and it might well be uncomfortable, but we will learn something in the process.

Local talent

Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones we fail to notice. And then the universe gives us a kick up the backside so we get the message.

A cousin kindly forwarded me a plea for male readers for a radio programme audience (if you go to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, you will notice the male/female ratio for most events, which explains the gender-specific request for the radio show). I had no idea if I could go but I ordered the book anyway. In the end, we were busy that weekend so I never did make it, but I started to read the book…and resurfaced a couple of days later.

Then a few days later, as I was driving home, I passed by The Edinburgh Bookshop. It’s a wonderful shop, tucked away at Holy Corner in Edinburgh (for the non-locals, it’s called that because there is a church on all four of the corners of the intersection of two roads. I know this well because I have to prove it to one member of the family or other each time we are there.) It’s also where the girls used to go to an after hours book club for a few years so we have a particular affection for it. With hindsight, I should have pulled over and stopped to take a picture, but it was late and I was hungry and probably late for picking up from a dance class and there was a car right on my tail, so I kept going despite knowing I should just stop for a minute. The entire window was full of books by one author. The same one whose book I had just read.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell.

Maggie O'Farrell


Maggie O’Farrell was a name I had heard of, I knew she was an author, but that was about it. I couldn’t have named any of her books or told you anything about what type of books she writes. The sad fact is that the same is true of most authors – I haven’t even heard of them, never mind knowing anything about them. And on investigation, it turns out she lives in Edinburgh and she only won the flipping Costa Novel Award (now I was feeling really bad – I didn’t even know that).

I wrote last week about learning from these authors. Let’s look at one of her characters for a minute. Meet Iris.

Iris walks along the street, keys in one hand, coffee in the other.

Right. This is not fair. In one line, I have a picture of Iris. In just one line. I just stopped reading at this point and decided I needed a break. When I had gathered myself again, it got better.

Iris walks along the street, keys in one hand, coffee in the other. The dog is just behind her, claws tick-ticking on the concrete. Ladders of sun drop down through the gaps in the high buildings and the night’s rain is vanishing in patches from the pavement.

So that’s how you do description. I was taking a lot of mental notes by this point. Next page. One scene. Dialogue – so it turns out this is how you do dialogue, and characterisation, and description. All in one page. I think it’s worth including in full. You’ll enjoy this.

Iris sits opposite Alex in a bar in the New Town. She swings a silver shoe off the end of one toe and bites down on an olive. Alex toys with the bracelet on her wrist, rolling it between his fingers. Then he glances at his watch. ‘She’s never usually this late,’ he murmurs. His eyes are hidden behind dark glasses that give Iris back a warped reflection of herself, of the room behind her.

She drops the olive stone, sucked clean, into a dish. She’d forgotten that Alex’s wife, Fran, was joining them. ‘Isn’t she?’ Iris reaches for another olive, presses it between her teeth.

Alex says nothing, shakes a cigarette out of its box, lifts it to his mouth. She licks her fingers, swirls her cocktail around her glass. ‘You know what?’ she says, as he searches for a match. ‘I got an invoice today and next to my name it had “the witch” scribbled on it. In pencil.’


‘Yeah. “The witch” Can you believe that? I can’t remember who it was now.’

He is silent, striking a match against its box raising the flame to his mouth. He takes a long draw on his cigarette before saying, ‘Obviously it was someone who knows you.’

Iris considers her brother for a moment as he sits before her, smoke curling from his mouth. Then she reaches out and drops an olive down the front of his shirt.

I think that scene should be in every ‘how to’ guide to fiction. It tells you more about this brother and sister than you realise until you get to the end of the book and re-read it, and you realise that yes, you did pick it up the first time round. It was all there. The scene stuck in my head all the way through the book so when I got to the end, all I could think was “yup, knew that”. The one thing that really riles me (all right, there is more than one thing) is when something appears at the end of a book in a grand unveiling and I don’t just think, I know that it was not set up properly. It was just dropped in to solve a problem, to get to the ending, to wrap up something that made no sense. There were no clues, no hints, no way that I, the reader, could have worked out how the story was drawn to a close.

In this book, however, I knew what was going to happen because it was the only thing that could happen, because I knew the characters, knew what they were like, knew how they would react. It was an inevitability – as it should be. Twists are great, but you have to be able to say “I should have known that” – because the author laid out the trail – as well as a second trail, the one which you were supposed to follow, thinking you had figured it out, only to find you were deceived all along (cue evil laughter from the author – fooled another one). My batting average for figuring out what the twists are has improved greatly, but (fortunately) there are still enough variations to catch me out. It would be boring otherwise.

Anyway, back to Maggie O’Farrell. In the spirit of obsessiveness, which in my family we know is an inherited trait, I now have two more of her books on my holiday reading list. It reminds me of our holiday ten years ago in Boston (unbelievably, still the era when you couldn’t get any book in the world delivered to you within a few days) when I ordered every book Jodi Picoult had written to be delivered to our hotel. Back then, only one or two of her books were available in the UK and, having read The Pact, I had to read everything else by her. It does mean I have pretty complete collections by my “go to” authors. Maggie O’Farrell has been added to that list.

PS every book I’ve mentioned this week and last comes highly recommended by me. Read any of them, you’ll be glad you did.

PPS you should also have known that this blog was going to be about Maggie O’Farrell because I’ve been telling you it would be for the last two weeks. Just in case you thought I hadn’t laid the trail…

Return of the politics

It’s that time of the year when the postman has to work even harder than normal. Not Christmas, this time there’s an election looming in front of us. One in which 16 year olds can vote. Which is scary when you have a sixteen year old. Ours wants to understand what the different parties believe in. The various pieces of paper that arrive on a daily basis don’t really help much. Some of them don’t even make any grammatical sense.

Last year, Caroline Lucas, still the only Green MP in the Westminster parliament, came to the Edinburgh Book Festival. I had a ticket for the event, then a dance event came up that a certain daughter was desperate to go to. Unfortunately it was one that we both probably thought afterwards was not as good as a political talk would have been. I did, however, read Caroline Lucas’s book, which is about her experiences of being an MP since the 2010 election and her thinking on a range of subjects.

Caroline Lucas

One of the conversations we have been having at home is what you do when you don’t agree with everything a party or a person seeking election stands for. Which will always be the case to some extent. And what to do when the views that you most identify with are those of a party which might never win a seat. The proportional representation of the Scottish parliament is helpful there because there is a reasonable chance that at least one person from that party will end up being in the parliament. Caroline Lucas is one example of what can be done with only one voice in a parliament. And what cannot.

Here are some of the things I found myself agreeing with her on:

If we are to meet these more ambitious [climate] targets, we need a clear and comprehensive framework for action, based on a massive investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency; and carbon taxes (replacing the current policy of subsidising coal, oil and gas) to help take account of the benefits of preventing climate change and the costs of pollution, so that low and zero-carbon energy sources can be developed on a large enough scale to become commercially viable. We also need the right infrastructure to create a circular economy, based on reusing, repairing and recycling.

Just today, I saw a washing machine by the side of the road, destined for some landfill. Apple, we found out last week, expects our expensive devices to last three to four years before needing to be replaced. There has to be a better way to use the planet’s resources. I am often struck by one small example of what we could do differently. In Germany, most bottles are not just recycled but reused. There is a deposit on each bottle to encourage their return (creating also a small income source for some of the homeless who find a good number of bottles left lying around the cities to bring in a little money), but the culture is that bottles are returned to the shops, put back in crates and sent back to the brewers. It’s just what everyone does. Here, we at best smash them up to be melted down and the glass reused. In Germany, even plastic bottles are reused. These are small things which we could do differently. We used to think that requiring people to wear a seatbelt was impractical. Who now would not automatically belt up as soon as they get into a car?

One of the main drivers of climate change is consumerism: or as Professor Tim Jackson memorably summarised it, buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to create impressions that don’t last with people we don’t care about. We know this. We want, as individuals and as a society, to live more natural lives, and spend more time on the things that matter: family, friendship, community.

The Greens are sometimes accused of being naive and idealistic. There were certainly elements of their 2015 manifesto that made little sense to me (I did think, however, that it was the best written by a long way), but there is also a lot in what Caroline Lucas says that is sensible, practical and entirely realistic. Just not as short-term as some of the other parties. There is also an understanding of human nature in her thinking which doesn’t always come across in the larger parties’ approaches to difficult issues:

In politics, when you strip away the rhetoric and dogma, the media-driven anxieties, the artificial divisions and the rest of it, you are left with people’s essential decency. Our world is so large and complex. It can be hard for individuals to find the right way to their own truths. The natural reaction is to deal with abstracts – ‘asylum-seekers’, or ‘scroungers’, or ‘addicts’. But when people actually meet a refugee, hear their stories, their ambitions, their gratitude to Britain for providing a place of refuge, they no longer want them out. They are more likely – in that typical British way – to start a petition to allow them to stay. When your own job is at risk, when you know people who want to work but can’t find any, or who are sick or disabled and trying to lead a decent life on the meanest pittance the state can devise – then the myth of the army of scroungers soon evaporates.

Some of the stories of the dysfunctionality of the British parliament were truly staggering to an outsider. The refusal to use electronic voting which would save hours of wasted time, MPs being shoved into the ‘right’ lobby by their party’s whips, not even knowing what it was they were voting on, not to mention the archaic conventions which seem to matter so much to some MPs. But if change happens one person at a time, some of it is starting with Caroline Lucas. She can be my MP any time. I might not agree with her on everything, but I know she would have thought about the issue. And that she would stand up for what she believes in.

It’s over – time for a reboot

So, the Book Festival is over. I had to take one last quick picture after my last event this year – lovely to see the gardens still so full after two weeks. Only fifty weeks till we get to do it all again!

Book festival

I suppose that means we have to return to real life. And to the serious business of writing.

I tried taking a break (it was called holiday) from writing, which was great until it came to getting back into a rhythm again. I prefer to think of it as a rhythm rather than a routine, if only because my association with routine is not a happy one. It’s what I dread the most because I have no patience for repetition. I saw a great video the other day of a contraption which launched a tennis ball down a hallway for a dog to fetch. The clever part was that the dog had learned to reload the machine, knowing that if it did it correctly, the ball would shoot back out again seconds later. I am fairly sure that the dog could have done it all day, or until it realised how hungry it was, or it just ran out of energy. But repetition and routine are not for me. I just get bored too easily.

And then I realised that I have a pretty structured running plan which has never come close to being boring. So maybe I was being too black and white when it came to finding an equivalent plan for my writing time.

The keys to my running plan are:

– being realistic about what you can do in a given week. Three runs a day might work if running is your job. For me, five times a week is about right.

– running flat out every time you go out is a recipe for disaster. I had to learn this by getting wrong, thinking I had to push myself every time I went out. It doesn’t work (and it’s not fun). Your body needs recovery, and the recovery allows it to come back stronger. Over time, it makes a big difference and recovery is as part of the overall plan as pushing yourself on other days. So I have only two hard sessions a week – one long run, one speed session. Add on a recovery run (more like a slow jog) after each of the hard days and a medium length easy run and you have yourself a plan.

– Vary the sessions. Each time I go out, I have to check and see what it is I am to run that day. I have the overall rhythm of the training week in my head, but not what exactly I’m to do on a given day. That gives me a lot of variety and different challenges every week.

So I decided to replicate this (to some extent at least) with a writing schedule. So I have one day a week when I will write for a long time, another where I will just write quickly and not think too much about it (my speed session), a couple of days of balancing reading and writing (recovery days), and others where I just have to sit down for 45-60 minutes and write. Then I’m done for the day. And one day when I focus on my characters revealing themselves. I’ve tried to work this around the evenings that I know I will be sitting outside a dance studio while the girls are working hard, and I will leave behind anything that can connect to the internet, which I think should be renamed the distractanet, and take only my beloved Neo. On which I can do only one thing – write.

So far, I’m only a few days into this so I’m not getting too carried away yet, but it’s helping to get into what I hope will become a rhythm with some focus on the time I do have available.

I view this a a slightly more positive way of recognising the need for a balance of hard work and recovery than is perhaps suggested by Hannah Arendt’s somewhat more existential perspective:

‘There is no lasting happiness outside outside the prescribed cycle of painful exhaustion and pleasurable regeneration, and whatever throws this cycle out of balance … ruins the elemental happiness that comes from being alive.’

Festival Time!

The Festival(s) programmes are simply getting too big. At the rate they are going, we will need people to spend a day just going through them and filtering them to a manageable number of offerings that might interest us. Every year when the Book Festival (yes, I know it’s the ‘Edinburgh International Book Festival’ just as the Simpson’s was the ‘Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion’ but really, not every time I want to mention it and see, now I’ve lost my train of thought) … oh yes, whenever the Book Festival programme arrives, I have this sinking feeling when I have a cursory look and immediately think there is nothing of real interest to me. I then pick it up again on the following weekend and discover that there is in fact a huge variety, and this year was no exception. This year, though, I also went to a number of events in the Fringe, the programme for which really does require several hours of searching.

Unsurprisingly, we saw a few dance shows, starting with a combination of ballet and juggling where timing seemed to be everything, and was executed brilliantly. There is always something about seeing two art forms combined and what is then created. Balletronic was a Cuban dance troupe with a small orchestra (I’m sure there is a technical term for it, but the inclusion of electric guitars and drums might complicate that), a singer, and music which wouldn’t normally be associated with ballet. The dancing itself reflected the energy and pace of the music but still managed to look effortless.

Going back to combining different disciplines – how about maths and comedy. Not maths as I remember it though. We didn’t ignite gas to show wave forms, or hold hands to complete a circuit to listen to music, and we certainly didn’t predict the exact time of a baby’s birth by extrapolating from the frequency and duration of contractions. It was probably rare that a bunch of finance guys were the target audience for a Fringe production. My experience is more likely to be that I’m the person walking through Edinburgh (admittedly in a suit sometimes) who nobody offers a flyer to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

And then there was the Book Festival. You have to be there pretty late to see it like this:



First up was Kate Mosse (note the ‘e’, this was not the other Kate Moss without the ‘e’). I found her thoughts on writing, rather than her books themselves, particularly helpful this year. For example her analogy that when she starts writing a novel, the characters are waiting in the wings, waiting to show themselves. And she has to be patient and not rush them out onto the stage until they are fully ready.

I mentioned Rory MacLean’s brilliant book on Berlin last year. This year he was back with a new, and decidedly more bizarre subject. Transnistria is… well it thinks it’s a country, even though the rest of world doesn’t, and doesn’t recognise the fall of the Soviet Union, even though the rest of the world does. This was going to be strange then. We stood for the Transnistria national anthem. The tune was not memorable. And then he took us into this surreal world of a non-country with a president, a range of ministers, many of whom are young, female, and appear to be in a relationship of sorts with the president. Lenin is a frequent appearance in statutes and pictures. And the country is a refuge for former Red Army generals, KGB officials and ammunition dumps which were left over after the Cold War and have since found themselves in conflict zones around the world. It really is a place you wouldn’t believe could exist today, and yet there it is. And you can get there (and back out again) by bus from Moldova, to which Transnistria legally belongs. Tempted?

If maths geeks were happy with the Fringe show I went to, translations geeks were in their element at a ‘Translation duel’. We all read translations of books where we don’t know the original language, and the work of translation is itself a skill where there is rarely a right or a wrong answer. Understanding the words of the source language is only part of the task. You also want to reflect the rhythm, the register and the overall sense of the original. And then there is the cultural associations. For example, how would you translate cucumber sandwich – if you’re from the UK, you will have an immediate picture of the type of bread, the cucumber slices, the butter, and probably even the types of event where you might expect to see them. We were given the source text (the author of which was also there), and two translations (both translators were also there). And then they discussed how they had translated the text. Well, the first sentence anyway. That took half an hour. It started with ‘why did you put a comma after “During the day”’? There was none in the original. Progress was really only made by stopping before any conclusions were reached. What amazed me most was that the tent was almost full, I was sure I was in the wrong queue for a while because it stretched back so far and I couldn’t believe anyone else would want to sit through an hour of detailed consideration of how to translate a text. But it’s as much more an art form than a technical exercise.

I translated part of a German novel a few years ago for fun when I was wanting some stimulation. It was by Armin Mueller-Stahl and I was surprised that it hadn’t already appeared in English as he is a well known actor. I wasn’t doing it with a view to it ever being used and certainly didn’t get close to finishing it, but it was good to engage with the detail of the two languages for a while. And it still hasn’t been translated into English. No, I’m not going there…

And there’s still another week of events to go… it’s exhausting!