Barbara Kingsolver at the Southbank
24 July, 2010
I wasn’t planning on going to any of the London Lit Fest events at the Southbank this year simply because I had too much going on, what with friends visiting and me going off to Munich for a holiday. I had such a lovely time there last year that I was a bit sad about it, but then one of my lovely friends wasn’t able to make it and had a spare ticket to see Barbara Kingsolver! So of course I said yes (who wouldn’t?)
I hadn’t read any of her books so I wasn’t really desperate to see her, but I thought I’d better start The Poisonwood Bible before the event just to get a flavour of her writing. I read the first page and got goosebumps. You know when you read a few sentences and just know that the writing is something special. I had to read each sentence very slowly. I wanted to take my time and savour each word. It’s amazing, and I’m only on the third chapter. Said lovely friend is a big fan of her work and had recommended The Poisonwood Bible a few years ago. Her partner, who was at the event, informed me my friend’s favourite book by Kingsolver is Prodigal Summer. I’m definitely getting that. That is, after I finish this book and The Lacuna, both of which I got signed…heheh!
Kingsolver is a brilliant raconteur: self-deprecating, funny and very personable. She spoke a lot about her writing life and the mechanics of writing. One advice she gave was to write for yourself, not for the market. Make a contract with yourself that you do not have to share it with anyone else. This will lessen the fear somewhat and allow you the freedom to write. And it helped that her interviewer was Suzi Feay (who reviews books for The Financial Times) of whom I’m a great fan. So if you ever have a chance to go and see Kingsolver talk, I urge you to do so. It will be a most enjoyable hour and a half that you won’t regret.
And talking about reading slowly, here’s an interesting article in the Guardian.
And did you know there was a Poetry Library on the 5th floor of the Southbank Centre? Oh yes, and it’s free to join and has an amazing collection of books which you can borrow. I can’t believe that I’ve been visiting the Southbank Centre all these years and didn’t even realise.