Monday, May 28, 2007


AUCKLAND WRITERS AND READERS FESTIVAL:
BOUQUETS AND MISCELLANEOUS MEANDERING MUSINGS
(with the comment that I only attended 18 of the 65 events)


Most outstanding speakers:

Tim Winton
C.K.Stead
Pico Iyer

Most charming author:

Xinran

Best chairpersons:

Kapka Kassabova
Stephanie Johnson
Harry Ricketts
Lauraine Jacobs

Most entertaining session:

Buy champagne, pour tea, cook rice, write bestseller…tick

Best innovation this year:

Recorded announcement of sponsors rather than being done by individual chairpersons

Biggest need for next year:

Free wireless broadband availability at venue

Sight to behold:

Silver haired Remuera/Parnell book enthusiasts jostling for front of queue positions at entrances to ASB Theatre and then charging down the aisles to get best possible seats.

Suggestions to organisers:

Screen book covers during author sessions rather the just leaving up name of session, author/s and chair.

Ask publishers not to hold social functions when sessions are on.

Remind Chairpersons that the punters have come to hear the authors not the Chairpersons.

Conclusions:

Fabulous venue, hope Festival can afford to return?

Great organization and management.

Creativel marketing.

Wonderful team of volunteers.

Terrific selection of guest authors.

Best-ever Auckland Writers & Readers Festival – hands down!

So hats off to Jill and her team - Shona, Annaliese, Angela, Mel & Michelle- to the Trust Board, to the big team of generous sponsors, and indeed to everyone who played a part in staging this world-class event in our city. Roll on next year!

I spent $200 plus on tickets and much more than that on books but I consider it all GREAT value. Thanks everyone, ciao.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the mental image of the remuera/parnell ladies! Hilarious! Great festival blog altogether - I almost felt like i was there...thanks again
Lee

Gavin McLean said...

Well said, Bookman. A thoroughly enjoyable festival and congratulations to the organisers and their very helpful volunteers. Perhaps, though, next year there should be some positive discrimination to get some silver-haired Remmers blokes there, too - slots on military/transport history (or given Awa and others' forthcoming lists, some science writing),perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Thanks fore this Bookman.I would add another bouquet - least obtrusive chair - 1st equal Terry Sturn and Graham Beattie - and both their sessions benefitted from that.
I have one brickbat and that is that in the session that you chaired in the NZI Upper Room I could not see you at all and I could only see a part of Rachael King. That bloody rostrum should not have been there.I belive about a third of the audience of about 200 was affected in this way.

Roger Hall said...

Another great chairperson: Justin Paton interviewing with Matthew Collings.

And neither you nor the Herald, alas, mentioned the great event with Richard E Grant being interviewed by Te Radar.
Te Radar did a great job, even if wildly eccentric at times with Grant accepting and going with the challenge.
When Grant and Te Radar walked on stage there was this wave of applause form the 700 or so in the audience. Radar modestly said "Thanks very much, but I think you should also welcome our guest Richard E Grant".
Radar had no notes, but had clearly done his homework and he weaved his erratic way through Grant's career as an actor, leading up to Wah Wah.
Geoff Walker said that Te Radar interviewing Richard E Grant was the best event he'd seen at any book festival anywhere.
The only disappointing note was when Richard E Grant read exactly the same extract from the Wah Wah Diaries as he had on the opening night, a let down for those of us who had been to both events. (Maybe organisers need to remind those who make more than one appearance not to repeat their material.)

But yes, foodies panel the most entertaining; yes the best Festival by far; yes the venue was exactly right (if only the food in the Aotea foyer could be a wider choice)--best venue for many reasons, not the least was how social it all was because we were all milling around in the foyer and therefore met so many friends.
Can hardly wait until next year.

Roger Hall

Ranfurly Ron said...

You know Bookman I have to express surprise to read that you had to pay to get into Festival events. I live in the South Is where you can no longer buy the NZ Herald unless you subcribe to it so you have been my main source of news about the Festival and it has been great. I am retired and can no longer afford to travel to Festivals as I used to so it was a real treat for me when my daughter told me about your blog.Thank you for all this and I hope next time you might be given media status, you sure deserve it.

old journo said...

Yeah, have to agree with Ranfurly Ron about this. Blogging is now widely recognised as part of the mainstream media/criticism/book review zone and when bloggers supply the sort of coverage and provide such strong support as Beattie has, not only through the Festival, but for the past few months then for him to have to pay entry is clearly a nonsense.

Anonymous said...

just want to say thanks for your reporting on the Festival. My sister is a bookseller and she put me on to your blog as I couldn't be there.
She said that booksllers and publishers and librarians all read your blog and having read it for the first time over the weekend I can see why.
Thank you, please keep doing this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a great Festival, and a great venue. Perhaps Aucklanders are finally getting to like the Aotea Centre? What a buzz there was on the lower level with people milling around, talking, eating, drinking while waiting for the next session to start.
I agree that congratulations are due to Jill and the small Festival office team.
Thanks to you all, roll on next year.

Anonymous said...

worst hogger of time on a panel: Barry Gustaffson, who managed to grab more time than the other two panellists put together--the chairman pursed her lips..but took no action.

Read@Peace said...

What a fascinating blog. Enjoyed reading it and have bookmarked it. Transported me to Auckland again.

Anonymous said...

I too really enjoyed the Festival this weekend. The Science session with Anne Salmond, Kim Hill, Paul Callaghan and Hamish Campbell on Friday night was absolutely superb.

Anonymous said...

Most inappropriate chair:
Jennifer Ward-Lealand

We all know she is a terrific actress, one of the best we have produced, but chair at a Writers and Readers Festival? I don't think so. I have noticed at other Festivals that organisers feel they have to get a celebrity to chair big first night events. They should save the money (because I'll bet Jennifer was paid more than any of the other chairs)and use an industry person because those five authors on the opening night didn't need a celebrity to help fill the hall.

Mary said...

I'm inclined to agree with the comments about the unsuitability of Jennifer Ward Lealand mentioned above.
Has she got enough intellectual horsepower or even the sort of
in-depth general knowledge of these authors and their books to make a good fist of it?
After all the combined intellectual strength of the authors on stage was pretty intimidating.

Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by Gavin McLean's comments about the need for science writing - there were some great science sessions, at least two (Paul Broks and The Transit of Venus panel) that I personally got to. I would certainly be pleased, though, to have more of these.

I also found myself at some absolutely wonderful sessions that Graham hasn't mentioned, so am wondering Graham if you actually made it to most sessions or are simply awarding your "bests" on the basis of the particular ones you actually attended? Also, I have to say I didn't enjoy the CK Stead - it was like being back in the lecture hall.

Bookman Beattie said...

In reply to the last comment above, yes , as I noted on my post I attended 18 events and made my judgements based on those.

Thanks to all who have taken the trouble to respond and comment. I'm chuffed by all the reaction, easily the most any of my postings have attracted to date.