The eighth EDINBURGH INDEPENDENT RADICAL BOOK FAIR offers an astonishing array of readings and events for the discerning — and dissenting — reader. Allan Radcliffe investigates.
tanding proudly between
Avalanche Records and the
Pear Tree pub. Word Power one of Scotland‘s last remaining independent bookshops — is lidinburgh's best kept secret. Since its inauguration a decade ago. the radical emporium. whose avowed aim is to provide a gimmick-tree forum for non-mainstream publications. has built up a loyal following among those who believe the emphasis should be on the written word. not the author‘s publishing deal and the price of the cappuccino.
Since 1997. Word Power has also extended its commitment to showcasing small or specialist publishers. with the establishment of the lidinburgh lndependent Radical Book liair. The festival. now approaching its eighth annual tenancy ol‘ the Assembly Rooms. with most events retailing at measly sums ranging from nought
to £5. might well be expected to attract a roll call of the usual left-wing agitators. And. while both (ieorges .\lonbiot and (ialloway have been associated with Word Power at some stage. the sheer scope of the festival programme is extraordiiuiry.
This year's series of events kicks off on 'l‘hursday l() June with an appearance from (ilasweigan literary (‘olossus and Booker-winner James Kelman (who. incidentally. snipped the ribbon when Word Power opened its doors in l‘)‘)-l). The event is a must for all Kelman aﬁcionados. as well as being an opportunity to hear extracts from his new novel You I](ll‘(’ to lie ('iit‘if/ii/ in I/Il’ ].(lII(/ oft/1e Free. Kelman's eagerly anticipated new work tells of a Scot exiled in the lfnited States whose planned return to his home country becomes bogged down in painful memories and personal hang-ups. And il’ that isn't enough to whet your cultural appetite. the opening night also features music from innovative Latin American folk band Voces del Sur. Poetry and prose fiction are well represented throughout the programme. with readings from established as well as fledgling writers. An eclectic evening of poetry (liri l l June. 7pm) l‘eatures well-kent Scots wordsmith 'l‘om Leonard alongside Bengali-Scottish poet Bashabi liraser. author of the beguiling Yiit'tiiti uml 'Iiir/mti. lidinburgh-lmsed Beth Junor and Palestinian refugee poet based in lidinburgh. (iha/i llussain. .lUSt’p/I Knight author James Robertson and 'l‘essa Ransl'ord. creative writing l‘ellow to the (‘entre for Human licology. will be reading from recent small press- published collections on Saturday alternoon. An evening of prose readings follows. with contributions from (ilasgow's Anne Donovan. author of the highly
100 THE LIST 7/ Ma, T’).Jtit'.1'”,’,.1
‘IT MIGHT BE THE MOST RADICALLY WORTHWHILE THING YOU'LL , DO war will also
acclaimed Budd/m Du. as well as Sara Maitland. who penned the gorgeous short story collection ()II Recruiting (1 l-iu'ry (i'oiliiiotltr'i‘. 'l‘hose ol‘ a creative bent are also encouraged to take part in one of several workshops offered by the lair. including Tessa Ransl’ord's insight into ('reative Writing lot' Activists. which examines the nature of ‘political‘ writing. and Helen Boden‘s exploration of the relationship between creative and personal or therapeutic writing. As its title suggests. there will also be vai‘ious forum discttssions and author events dealing with a diverse array ol' socio-political and cultural issues.
Highlights include an appearance by investigative journalist Linda .\lelwern. reading from her book ('oiis/iirui'v 'l'o .lliiri/i'r.vvliiclt deals with the Rwandan genocide. and a forum with Palestinian author llan Pappe. Debates on subjects ranging from the linvironmentalism and the Poor and media perceptions of the Middle liast to t'el'lec‘lions on conllicts and invigorate the
Assembly Rooms. And. yes. the
most vociferous l'irebrand ol them all. ‘(iorgeous‘ (ieot‘ge (ialloway. will be making an appearance (Sun 13 June. 3.30pm) to launch his provocative vision for a radical new political order. I'm NU! l/It' ()tI/y ()ttt'.
With so many cheap or free events crammed into tlte long weekend. many are likely to be over- subscribed. So haste ye to that colourful wee nook on West Nicholson Street and get booking. It might be the most radically worthwhile thing you‘ll do this year.
For more information see www.word-power.co.uk
Cruel methods of torture. pestilence- ridden streets. grave-robbers. prostitutes and cannibals — the gruesome Visitor attraction. the Edinburgh Dungeon. takes you on a spine-chilling tour of the deepest. darkest chapters of Scottish history. The 15th century vaults adjoining Waverley train station have been converted to house over 1.600 sq metres of ghastly artifacts. a nerve- iangling boat tom and all manner of unmentionable graphic re- enactments. With exhibits including the murderers and grave robbers Burke and Hare. Robert the Bruce's heart and a reconstruction of the cave which was home to the notorious cannibal Sawney Bean. the dungeon is designed to terrify Visitors. taking them on a ride through the more sinister elements of Scotland's past. Other experiences include the Old Town of Edinburgh as it was centuries ago. complete with dirt. disease. waste being thrown from a tenement window and the 'body cart' waiting to pick up the unfortunate Victims of plague.
The medical history of the city is also represented. with early attempts at surgery portrayed and the mortuary where those who died were brought. There is also a range of torture equipment on display. including the innocently-named ‘maiden' guillotine. used to exeCLite Edinburgh criirtinals between 1:364 and 1720. together With head crushers. thumbscrews and flesh tearers.
And it just gets better this month as l-lighland Vampires prepare to descend on the Dungeon in celebration of a new €100,000 dungeon exhibit: Vampires: Fact or Fiction. And like the good souls it houses. Edinburgh Dungeon has an unlucky 13 pairs of tickets going begging. Just answers this simple question: Which Edinburgh station is the Dungeon Situated beSIde’? Send answers to edinbtirghiallist.eo.uk. Deadline 10 Jun 2004. Usual List competition rules apply.
I Edinburgh Dungeon, 37 Market Street. 0731 240 7000