On Thursday, I prematurely claimed to write my last review from this year's Edinburgh International Book Review. I was wrong, though I didn't know it at the time.
I then won a Twitter competition for tickets to the Book festival event with Susannah Clapp talking about the life and works of Angela Carter. It was a fascinating event, Clapp is Carter's literary executor and spoke insightfully about Carter's work and her own book, A Card from Angela Carter an illustrated memoir about the writer. But that event, excellent as it was isn't what I'm going to review here.
After that event I managed to get a last minute press ticket for Robert MacFarlane talking about The Old Ways his book about walking. He was in conversation with Stuart Kelly and they covered a lot of ground in their discussion as well as MacFarlane reading several passages from the book. They talked about paths and journeys really having no beginning or end and the parallels between land art and path-making.
MacFarlane had put together a slide show, which included some haunting black and white photos of the coastal causeway at the Broomway in Essex. There were also photos from his visit to the Shiants (which some of you may remember from my review of Sea Room, Adam Nicholson's book about those islands). This lead to discussion of sea ways, the hidden paths across the water that in many cases have been used for generations. Going even further back, MacFarlane talked about finding the prehistoric footprints at Formby that Jean Sprackland had also mentioned in passing earlier in the festival. When the talk moved to the politics of walking in Palestine, MacFarlane said that some of his friends there felt that the connection they felt with deep time as they walked through the ancient landscape of the area, helped them to see political unrest in a different perspective.
This was the only event I went to at this year's Book Festival that had a sign language interpreter, Rachel. She was brilliant, even giving a very fluent interpretation of what seemed like a challenging passage from Old Ways that she hadn't been shown before (MacFarlane at the last minute, changing his mind about what to read!). I don't understand much sign language, but it is always so beautiful to watch.
Thanks again to Edinburgh International Book Festival for another excellent event and to Clicket for arranging the press pass and tickets!
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