Who wants to spend time inside, when there are such pools, patios and views beckoning? In this hot weather, however, don’t forget your sunscreen, floppy hats and books to cover your faces (tablets are just not the same thing…).
Last year I waxed lyrical about the great atmosphere of this book festival for readers and authors in Morges, on the banks of the bonny Lac Léman. This year it’s taking place between the 5th and 7th of September and I’ll be heading there again for what promises to be a great line-up and a chance to enjoy the last days of summer in congenial surroundings. There is a giant book tent where you get a chance to buy books and get them signed by your favourite authors, as well as a number of panel discussions or Q&A sessions with authors.
This year too, you’ll find the usual suspects of Swiss and French-speaking writers, including old favourites of mine (or those I look forward to reading), such as: Metin Arditi, Joseph Incardona, Yasmina Khadra, Martin Suter, Alex Capus, Emilie de Turckheim, Tatiana de Rosnay, Alain Mabanckou, Timothée de Fombelle.
They will be joined by a diverse bunch of writers who also speak English (not all of them write in English): Esther Freud, Jonathan Coe, Louis de Bernières, Helen Dunmore, Amanda Hodginskon, Jenny Colgan, Tessa Hadley, Elif Shafak from Turkey, Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe, Gabriel Gbadamosi from Nigeria, Frank Westerman from the Netherlands, Paul Lynch (the Irish writer rather than the Canadian filmmaker). Also present: several members of the Geneva Writers’ Group who’ve had new books out recently, writers I’m proud to also call my friends, such as Michelle Bailat-Jones, Susan Tiberghien, Patti Marxsen. The Geneva Writers’ Group will also be hosting a breakfast on the boat from Geneva to Nyon to Morges, a wonderful opportunity for readings and Q&A sessions with some of our authors.
This year’s guest of honour is poor, battered Greece, a reminder that art and creativity can nevertheless survive like wildflowers peeking through cracks in austere cement. Here are a few of the writers I look forward to discovering there:
- crime writer and masterly painter of the Greek crisis, Petros Markaris
- Christos Tsiolkas – Australian of Greek origin, who needs no further introduction
- Ersi Sotiropoulos: an experimental, avant-garde writer, whose novel about four young Athenians musing about their future, Zig-Zag through the Bitter Orange Trees, has been translated into English. She is currently working on ‘Plato in New York’, described as a hybrid of a novel that uses fictional narrative, dialogue, and visual poetry.
- Yannis Kiourtsakis – suspended between France and Greece, novels exploring the heart of displacement and emigration
- Poet Thanassis Hatzopoulous, whose wonderful words (translated by David Connolly) I leave you with:
The clacking of prayers persists
And the rattles of the temple where
The beauteous officiates
And yet no one
Can bear this beauty, the touch
Everything glows and fades incomprehensibly
By itself carrying so much desolation
And charm peculiar to verbs
The seasons rotate under the veil of rhythm
And the people who bear them
Return more vigorous full of freshness and breeze
Conveyed in their steps
Dripping their tracks
And whatever life gives them they return
So equally the soul’s universe is shared
Rendering in radiance whatever
In at times its own way avaricious
Yet beauty has no justice
All turmoil, prey to chance is meted
And finds peace.
What, you may ask, is this little stamp of approval that I am supposed to add to the sidebar of my blog? It is a new badge from Netgalley designed for members who are auto-approved by four or more publishers. (The one below is what every reviewer registered on Netgalley receives.)
So what does this mean? Does it mean that my gorgeous writing style and incisive reviews have wooed the great and mighty of the publishing world? That they crave my approval and are falling over themselves to put my words of wisdom on their book covers?
Nope, it means I am far too greedy for my own good still. And that, despite my efforts to clear a little of my TBR list, I still have 30 (thirty!) unread books on my Netgalley shelf. That website will be my undoing…
Back in the days when I had complete freedom to decorate my house without fear of sticky fingers, a trail of breadcrumbs, opinionated non-decorators and generally messy family members, I opted for an all-white interior, with accents of blue.
Some might find white on white too cold and clinical, reminiscent of hospitals and canteens, but I long for those days of effortless simplicity. Classic, calming, bringing back happy memories of the sea and endless horizons… Holiday time!
Seeing how popular my tiny house on the lake was last week (a.k.a boathouse) and having lived for many years near the Thames, where the boathouses were almost more beautiful than the mansions accompanying them, here are some more for you to enjoy, from all round the world.
Because, as Ratty says to Mole when they get to know each other in The Wind in the Willows:
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Simply messing…about in boats — or with boats… In or out of ’em it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.
Finally, if you can’t decide on an exact location for your boathouse, Singapore-based architect Myitr Malcew has created a floating boathouse which you can take with you anywhere.
For every inspiration
there is a yanked deception
all for your good, your own good, your very own good
Old Dobbin work horse, clothes horse,
fit in, fit in, or back to the bargain bin.
Black and white world views:
all men cheat, all women punish.
Snide remarks, alimony payments, guilt oh guilt.
Children? A boast, a blackmail,
nothing too tangly.
Oh, princess, princess, you’re too old,
your pink trousers far too rolled…
Life is to be endured
remembered with regret.
Jump in, drown, in perfect pool
of emoting gushingness – so like a woman!
Seductive but not a slut,
mother in bloom, household goddess with Cath Kidston apron,
organic, fragrant, don’t pop the balloon!
Stay average, stay you, stay submissive,
how happy we are in our 4X4 car!
I’m linking this to Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets (doors open later tonight) – always a great opportunity to experiment and share. Admittedly, I cheated slightly and added a few bits, but relied mainly on the prose text I’d posted here. I chose a childish beat and repetition, to further emphasise the infantilisation of yummy mummies. Which version do you like best? I always tend to choose the more succinct and ambiguous, but am I right?
Point of clarification: I am neither for nor against Yummy Mummies. But I don’t envy them. Life circumstances have made me feel their pain – or what I imagine to be their pain. Luckily, I’m not yummy enough to quite enter their ranks.
First all creamy smooth…
with crunch of fresh-baked hotness:
firesparks in mouth
Food may be one of my favourite things in the world, but my poetic inspiration was only sufficient for this haiku about one of my new favourite foods, since I discovered how to make my own guacamole. I’m linking this up to Toni’s food prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub (talk about pub food!). Join me there to find much more evocative poems for foodies!