The Book Festival always attracts a number of top notch folk who may well be recognisable from appearing on the small box in the comer of your living room
Susie Dent Don't even ask her to be drawn on the subject of the ‘Carol Countdown Controversy'. Along with fellow word fan Henry Hitchings. the nine-letter word expert will be talking about the ever- evolving English language. 20 Aug. 2pm, £9 (£7).
Dan Cruickshank The architecture broadcasting world’s answer to Peter Snow will be getting quivery with excitement as he chinwags about all manner of amazing buildings around the globe. 18 Aug, 6.30pm, £9 (£7).
Matt Fret Our BBC man in Washington is set for a pretty busy second half to his year. But he‘ll no doubt be as charming as ever even when the pressure cranks up come polling day. 15 Aug, 6.30pm, £9 (£7).
Julie Myerson An author in her own right before she ever got on the box. Myerson might well be familiar to you for being the level—headed one on the Newsnight Review panel. 19 Aug, 10.15am, £9 (£7).
Yasmln AllbhaI-Brown For those who work (or don't) from home, YA- B will be a familiar face from Matthew Wright’s debating of the day's news stories on Five. In this event, Alibhai-Brown raises the tone a little with a chat about how Shakespeare changed her life. 21 Aug, 4.30pm, £9 (£7).
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KEVIN WILLIAMSON Writing poetry on the run
‘Rebel Inc involved a lot of chaos and a lot of confusion,‘ Kevin Williamson, founder of the one—time cult Edinburgh imprint. ‘And I can tell you that my days as a publisher are definitely over. I gave it all I could for ten years and wouldn't go back into it now, but I can look back over each of those 60 books and still recommend every one. They stand the test of time.‘
Rebel Inc was variously a literary magazine, a publisher of authors such as Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner, and ‘a glorious failure' of a cannabis coffee shop. Since the Rebel Inc banner was taken down in 2001, Williamson has been indulging his own creativity. Tired
of prose after editing other people's for so long, he writes non—fiction and recently released /n a Room Darkened. his first book of poetry and his second book after the non-fiction Drugs and the Party Line a decade ago.
‘lt's taken me 15 years to write this,’ he says. ‘l've been writing poetry since 1992, so this work runs in parallel with everything else I've done. I like to experiment with style »- there are concrete poems and cut-ups in there — but also find a lot about the people and places of Edinburgh and the Highlands creeping in. The longest poem in the book is called ‘Requiem for La Belle Angele', named after the Edinburgh club which burnt down, and it's about my recollections of the 199051
When questioned about his working methods, Williamson says he likes to write ‘on the run‘. So no change from the old days there. (David Pollock)
I 74 Aug (with George Gunn), 7.30pm, £6 (ff/1)
CHARLES LEADBEATER Internet ideas man seeks to expand boundanes
‘What excites me about book festivals is the sheer diversity of ideas. viewpoints and styles,’ says Charles Leadbeater. ‘There are so many interesting people who are interesting in different ways.‘ Leadbeater is all about ideas. He has advised governments and companies around the world on innovation strategies and how to harness the positive power of the internet as a platform for mass creativity and discussion. His book about the subject. We: Think, also explores how the web creates a culture where everyone can participate and share their knowledge and information.
The very nature of the subject required Leadbeater to get online and start collaborating. ‘It just seemed odd to write a book about that topic in a traditional way.‘ he says. ‘It was going to take a long time for the book to be published, so I thought it would be better to get some of the ideas out, to be talked about, shared and tested.’
The WezThink project was born with the associated website receivrng
14 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 14—21 Aug 2008
thousands of suggestions and opinions. ‘The comments were encouraging, many were helpful,‘ he says. ‘They alerted me to ideas. books and connections which I had not seen.’
A chance to discuss these ideas with an audience in Edinburgh is a new opportunity for him to spot connections and themes while admitting: ‘I am looking forward to having my mind expanded.‘ And if you've ever wondered how anyone is going to make a living if all their knowledge is being shared online. here's your chance to ask.
(Roddy Woomble) I 78 Aug, 8.30pm, £9 (£7); 79 Aug. 7pm, £9 (£7).
Seeking truth and an end to sleaze
Eleven years after New Labour's landslide victory, Martin Bell has been considering Tony Blair's legacy. More specifically, the white suit-wearing BBC war correspondent turned independent MP, and now UNICEF ambassador, wants to work out where it all went wrong. In town to discuss his book, The Truth that Sticks: New Labour Breach of Trust, Bell will be picking apart what he sees as ‘the most (la/zling, disappointing and ultimately dangerous decade in modern politics.’ His straight-talking critique begins with what he believes were false promises made by Labour to ‘end slea/e'. Their irresistible claims won over the hearts of the British public, who by that point were fed up with ‘dodgy politics' and a Tory government that had ‘lost its moral compass'.
This was Bell's cue to step in, as a crusader for honesty and transparency, bumping Neil Hamilton off his seat in Westminster — into a shiny new showbiz career — and getting himself into the House of Commons, a perfect spot for sniffing out any further nonsense. His analysis of Labour's decade of corruption, scandal and deceit, their doomed decision to go to war in Iraq, and their shameful neglect of the victims it created is passionate, damning and hard-hitting. Asking just how a government can recover from such abuse of power and loss of public trust, his whistle-blowing seems well- timed one year into the Brown era. Expect damning revelations and a call for politicians and policies that we deserve from this truth-seeking missile. (Claire Sawers)
I 20 Aug, 6.30pm, $9 ($37).
BOOKSLAM Ripping up the stuffy literary world i
‘People think live readings are : supposed to be 20-minute monotones about the "quality of light on the ‘ mountains" and unfortunately they I
often are, says Alan Bissett, master of ceremonies for a stagefull of Dan Rhodes (pictured), Patience Agbabi and Luke Wright. ‘But if you're a writer, you have to treat it the same way as a rock'n'roll gig and rip up the place.‘
The authors will be doing just that in Charlotte Square Gardens under the jubilant auspices of Bookslam, the literary London club night and brainchild of Ben Watt and Patrick Neate. Bookslam is a sexy, writhing melange of readings, live music and 1 DJ sets, and has hosted acts diverse as Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jon Ronson and Kate Nash.
Not Sure what to expect of its first foray up north? Dan Rhodes isn't either, but is happy to be taking part. ‘They've told me there'll be a bar, l which is always a bonus,‘ he says. ‘I'm l surprised the Book Festival has invited l me back after the incident with the pumpkin and the Action Man . . . It'll ; be a good night.‘
Be rapt as Patience Agbabi brings 5 the stage to the page with pace and ! poise. bathe in the melodious wit of I Dan Rhodes then have alternative laureate Luke Wright tilt your windmills in all the right directions. Featuring 1 booze and acoustic interludes from Roddy Woomble, with added funk, soul and hip hop, Bookslam will light up your mountains in a whole different way. (Peggy Hughes)
I 75 Aug, 6. 75pm, £9 (1.7).
RODGE GLASS 1 Analysing icons of football and fiction ‘Faith is something that preoccupies me, definitely, but it is usually the lack of it,‘ says Rodge Glass, the Glasgow- based Jewish author of No Fireworks and Hope for Newborns who passed through a staggering range of variously religious, private and state- 3 educational institutions on his way to Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. i ‘I feel so affected by the many places | was educated because none of them 5 felt like home,‘ he says. Unsurprisingly, his debut focused on Jewish identity while his recently published follow-up, the tale of two young and powerless revolutionaries in : Manchester, is more concerned with 'British' identity. ‘I have lived in Scotland for a decade now, so I use that word advisedly,‘ he says.