Friday, May 21, 2010

Real life in three new books
from our reporter in Wellington, a triple whammy.

Last night’s launch of three new books drew as big and enthusiastic a crowd as we have ever experienced at Unity. The writers read brilliantly and were mobbed at the end. Counting down, they were:

Ingrid Horrocks, whose Mapping the Distance is her third book. Ingrid read three poems, ending with ‘Light Between Houses’, for her partner Tim Corballis:

There in the brightness
as we talked back and forth, forth and back
each word seeming to come from a depth
in our bodies; we hardly touched before
I pushed against you and tasted your skin.

Anna Livesey, whose The Moonmen is her second book. Anna read the very moving sequence about her mother, the writer Janet McCallum, which ends with the lines:

There is no way of saying we are sorry, save to hold you.
There is no way to hold or save you.

Pip Adam, whose Everything We Hoped For is her first book. Pip had the audience in stitches with this ‘every word is true’ extract from ‘You’ve Come a Long Way Baby’:

We have a week north of London first, in a friend’s flat, in a huge tenement block, in Stevenage. People in Stevenage look like they’re taking the piss out of themselves. It’s chav heaven. There are whole families in shell suits. We catch the train into London, go to galleries and look through the bars of Buckingham Palace. We see squirrels, and marble steps that are worn away by millions of people, over hundreds of years, climbing them. We sleep on the lounge floor and annoy each other – but it’s cheap.
On Thursday a black car turns up outside and the driver calls and asks if we can come down because he’s a bit worried about leaving the car there. We come down in the piss-smelling lift and he puts our backpacks in the boot of the shiny, black car that local youths are now standing around and shouting at. We get driven to Milton Keynes in the grey cold.
The hotel we’re staying in is like Fawlty Towers. There are ducks, and people in sunglasses arrive and hug each other. All the way in the car, Bo says, ‘Be cool, just be cool.’ When the big stars start arriving at the hotel I am very, very uncool. When I say big stars, I mean Giles from Buffy, and all the hobbits and people from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. One of the hobbits gives Bo a hug, says ‘Boooh,’ and pats him as far up his back as he can reach. A taxi arrives, it’s the female cyborg from Terminator 3. Someone carries her luggage for her. We go to our room and Bo goes for a walk. He says he saw a fox but I highly doubt it. He’s nervous. It’s all about him. Tomorrow he has to earn our trip to England. At dinner I look around and think, this is ridiculous. I want to say to him, ‘Don’t be nervous, this is ridiculous,’ but I’m not sure whether it would help or hinder.
The next morning a limousine picks us up. We travel with a former child star and his wife who looks like what most people would expect the wife of a former child star to look like. A man who was in Goonies with the child star is reading the paper. He starts ripping out an article and says, ‘I gotta save this for Benicio – he wants to play Che.’ He seems to be saying it to me, so I sort of smile and nod. Nothing in my life has really prepared me for a conversation of this nature.
There are hundreds of people at the mall when we get there. It’s a bit of a mutant ghetto welcome. They scream and we get escorted down an aisle between the screaming people. Someone says the hobbits came separately. They’re coming round the back while we’re coming in the front – we’re a diversion.
They haven’t opened the mall yet and inside there are tables set up with huge posters above them. One of the women who came with us in the limousine is beautiful; I keep looking at her, thinking she probably plays some sexy vampire or something. She sits under a poster of herself with a Klingon crab-shell on her forehead. George Takei is there and the guy who used to be in Benson. Bo gets ushered under a photo of him as the Witch King, which could be anyone. I say, ‘Have fun’ and they sit the albino twins from the Matrix 2 on one side of him and Pussy Galore on the other. Then they open the doors.

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