Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crimefest 2009: still recovering...

A few more random thoughts on Crimefest.  There was an enormous amount of good stuff and I'm conscious that, in picking some (personal) highlights, I'm inevitably excluding numerous other excellent sessions.  But, for what it's worth, here are a few of the sessions that particularly lodged in my brain.

First, there was the session on forgotten authors on Thursday afternoon, chaired with characteristic aplomb by the frighteningly knowledgeable Martin Edwards (who also, quite deservedly, took home the Crimefest Mastermind trophy despite receiving only a single point - and a round of applause - for naming all the past presidents of the Detection Club).  It's chastening to realise, not just that authors are forgotten, but that current celebrity is not necessarily an indication of future longevity.  Which in turn raises the question of why some authors survive while others - equally famous in their day, perhaps even equally talented - disappear into the mists of time.

Second, there was the fascinating session on translation, featuring Don Bartlett, 'Reg Keeland', Tina Nunnally and Roz Schwartz.  I was left filled with admiration, not only for their skill and professionalism, but also for the integrity and creativity they bring to the task - the balance between being true to an author and finding the creative mechanisms to reflect that author's voice in a new language.

Third, and last for today, there was John Harvey's session.  While many of us were disappointed that Bill James was, in the end, unable to participate, a solo Harvey gave splendid value for money.  I admire Harvey for countless reasons - not least because he's made a career as a professional author in a world which seems to have rendered full-time writing nearly untenable.  That would be reason enough to admire him even if he were just a journeyman.  But, of course, he's also one of the most gifted crime writers we have.  And, on top of that, he appears to display consummate taste in everything from literature to music to, well, Nottingham.  If he wasn't so charming, I'd probably hate him. I was surprised that, as Harvey comments ruefully on his blog, so few came along to the session.  But everyone else missed a treat. 

More tomorrow, I should think.  I haven't even got on to my sessions yet (which is probably just as well). 

Comments

1. Maxine said...

I very much regretted missing John Harvey's interview. Unfortunately his interview clashed with a panel I could not bear to miss (forget what it was, now!). I did talk to him in the lobby that evening and he was so charming. It was a pleasure to meet him as I think his books are superb. Amusingly, he mentioned where he lives in London, and I was quite surprised. I realise that I assumed he lives in Nottingham, home of Resnick. How silly of me in retrospect - made me smile, though.

2. Michael Walters said...

Not sure what the alternative panel was, but it was clearly a popular one! John Harvey did live in Nottingham for a long time, I believe, though he's not a Nottinghamian by birth and has now moved back to North London (his loss, in my view, but I'm prejudiced). I had a very interesting chat with him about D.H.Lawrence (he'd cited 'The Rainbow' and 'Women in Love' as favourite non-crime novels), as Eastwood is my home town.

3. Peter said...

The first two panels you mentioned were highlights for me as well, not to mention insidious tools for enlarging my list of books to read. That's one purpose of such a convention, I think.

4. Michael Walters said...

Absolutely, Peter...not that I need much encouragement in that direction...

5. Norman aka Uriah said...

The John Harvey interview was excellent and I can't understand how it was not better attended. His choice of authors at the end included some of my favourites such as K.C.Constantine and Daniel Woodrell.

6. Michael Walters said...

Yes - I was surprised...I expected it to be one of the bigger draws of the weekend. I know Daniel Woodrell's work but haven't yet read K C Constantine - though I now want to. Incidentally, sorry I didn't get chance to say hello in Bristol - I was keeping an eye out for familiar names but didn't manage to spot you!

7. Norman+aka+Uriah said...

Michael I am also sorry that we did not meet up but perhaps next year.

8. Michael Walters said...

I hope so, Norman (or is that Uriah?) - one of the pleasures of Crimefest for me was discovered how many virtual acquaintances turned out to be delightful real people!

9. cfr said...

And Michael, Norm is one of those people too! I'm sorry I missed him.

10. Michael Walters said...

Yes, me too - oh, well...here's to next year! Hope you''re enjoying Hay.

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