Festival. Books



Being proactive about identity

Short attention span? Inability to turn down chocolate biscuits? Memory of a long-term dope smoker? Susan Greenfield. the Oxford-based neuroscientist, is hoping to shed light on these problems and more, when she appears here to discuss her latest book. In ID: The Quest for Identity in the 27 st Century, she explores the effects that modern living is having on our brain. New technology has made communication quicker and more efficient, and ‘2D living' side-steps a lot of old-fashioned hassle. but Greenfield is worried it could be slowly ruining certain mental functions at the same time.

‘I’m not a luddite.‘ says the author and director of the Royal Institution in London. ‘l'm all for technology. but I wrote the book to empower readers with knowledge. I wanted to show them how to steer their brains, and be proactive about the identity they are creating for themselves.’ In an interview with the broadcaster Ruth Wishart. Greenfield will discuss the major problems she believes are on peOple's minds just now. Hyperactivity in children, a rise in gambling. over- eating and cyber-romance are all discussed intelligently in her book. which uses years of scientific research to explain her concerns.

As we inch towards a thrill-seeking and instant gratification culture. she believes we may be losing the ability to think deeply and question things. ‘We are living in an era with unprecedented access to technology.‘ she says. ‘But we need to realise we are not slaves to science or to technology. We can take steps to embrace creativity and forge our own identities.’ (Claire Sawers)

I 19 Aug, 7.30pm, £9 (£7).

ESTHER RANTZEN Loving life in the third age

It was the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox that shaped the philosophy behind Esther Rantzen OBE's new book If Not Now, When? A self-help book, after a fashion, it expands on the virtues of enjoying life at every available opportunity. even into retirement or “the third age', to describe the elder years in a less negative way. “When Desi died aged 69, I thanked the heavens we did some of the things we'd planned.‘ says the ex-That's Life presenter, ‘There's no guarantee you have 20. 30 years ahead of you. so enjoy; that's my message. The theory is that

retirement allows you to fill your tune with all the things you want to, and of course I have to do chores and take meetings like everyone else, hut in. also free to go to Norway wrth my son in two weeks if I choose to.‘ Well-known as a tireless carr:p;i.;jr‘er for charity. Rant/en also has strung views on the veiled ageisn‘ of the medium she once ruled. I'm not saying everyone on televrsrori ought 2:; be over 5().' she says. ‘l-Eut it's completely stupid of producers to listen to advertisers who tell their; the sole target audience is aged It} 2- ;’-'- Strictly Come Dalrcrng is the per Iver. example of how you can appear rzgz' it across the generations, while :r‘- 1hr:- Apprentice. Alan Sugar has horrid." and gravitas. and that's all because ; :t the age he is.‘ (David Poliockr I 20 Aug, 1.30pm. 7pm, PS) I}

DAVE MCKEAN The comics guy who connects with rock stars and chefs

An illustration rnastercl; ss Iro'n l)tt‘.r: McKean is a very special thing 412k)”. 2d As one of the most lllli(‘\.'£li!\.’{: illustrators in Britain. his asso-.:r;rt.or. with Neil Gainran has raised izirr‘ t' ;i near-deity arnong (:ornrr: fans and goths. providing the cove-"s for ail .;= The Sandman's 75 issue run from 1989—1996. This was a ground breaking series that brought a literate intelligence to the medium. 'Neri's story was far more arnhitrous.' explains McKean. 'lt was very mum of its time but brought a new Ztti(ll(:I‘i(;(3 to comics. because people who \nxeren't

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mixed painting. collage. sculpture and photography adding to z it already unique package. ‘I was trying to clear out all the clutter of how cornrcs are usually drawn. Getting back to what people really look like, to start Iron: scratch then start to be Ill()l(‘: at rstr‘a- it and expressionistic from there. lt't; an ongoing (‘ieveloprnentf

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GAVIN FRANCIS Trekking round the back door of Europe

Edinburgh-based GP-turned-adventurer and travel writer Gavin Francis’ next book - charting an epic motorcycle schlep from Orkney to Sydney will finish on an ironic endnote. Having survived the mean streets of Beirut and New Delhi on its journey, his trusty 1982 BMW R80RT ended up being half- inched outside a friend’s house in Leith shortly after its return. ‘lt’s terrible isn’t it?’ he says. ‘It turned up nearby with just some of the wiring ripped out and shouldn’t be too expensive to repair, but unfortunately it’s still in the receivers’ yard waiting for the insurance company to sort it out. It was a bit disappointing that it came so far then ended up getting pinched here.’

Any road trips Francis and his wife, travel companion and co-author Esa, will be doing in the near future will be confined to the Lothian City bus map, then, but never mind: they’re planning on remaining stationary for a bit anyway in order to get stuck into penning their new tome. ‘We’re doing a book together about the differences in cultural landscape that you pass through on this journey from north-west to south-east, crossing through most of the Asian sub-continent. It’s about the gradual shift in culture that you get.’

A welcome interruption in the writing will be Francis’ appearance at the Book Festival, where he’ll be discussing his debut True North. Published in July, it’s based on the Fife-born author’s adventures trekking around the ‘back door of Europe’, Shetland, the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and Lapland. ‘lt’s a travel and history book about the northern fringes of the continent, all the parts of the Arctic we tend to consider European. As the sort of contemporary narrative, it follows how they‘re responding to climate change, and how they’re dealing with depopulation and people heading south toward cities.’ (Malcolm Jack) I Adi} “l‘.i’.'f.‘i '

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