An inaugural festival for an inaugural post.
So I thought it would be appropriate to centre my first post to this blog around another first — in this case, the first appearance of Unbound, a new mini-festival hosted within the larger Edinburgh International Book Festival. (Well, that plus the fact that, while I’ve been hankering to start this blog for some time, I just haven’t gotten the oomph together to do it, so needed some sort of outside kick to start things rolling …)
Unbound actually began last week, on the evening of August 15th. I almost made it, but chickened out at the last minute because I didn’t want to go by myself. Chicken, yes. Very much so. (Especially since that evening in question was built around a discussion of Scottish erotica, and whether or not such a thing does indeed exist. What a thing to miss. A travesty, one might even say.) I eventually mustered the courage later the following night and trundled downtown to catch some members of DIScOmBoBulAte read and entertain. It was standing room only, though (lesson for the future!), so I left before the evening had come to a close.
Lesson firmly in mind, I then ventured out tonight well in advance of the program’s start time. Got to the Spiegeltent a good forty five minutes early, grabbed a cup o’ tea, and plunked myself down on a table right close to the stage. I was eventually joined by a very nice family from somewhere down south — they’d come up for the weekend and had never been to Edinburgh before. I got to act like a local. It was great fun.
ANYWAY. The evening itself eventually got started around 9:30pm, and as it turned out was 100% worth the wait. Tonight’s speaker was Eli Horowitz, the Managing Editor of McSweeney’s.
If you’ve never heard of McSweeney’s before, go here. Please read. I expect you, like me, will suddenly find yourself stuck to your computer screen, alternating between hysterical laughter and, well, hysterical laughter. And that’s just the online version of the magazine. If you’re looking for a publication that’s not really like any other magazine you’ve ever seen, considering signing up for an issue, or two, or three. Expect magnets in books and superfluous combs in your mailbox. Hilarity all round, folks. Trust me.
ANYWAY … again. It was, all told, a great discussion. Eli Horowitz is very engaging and quite obviously really passionate about the magazine and what they’re trying to do. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside, to hear about the struggles of their small-but-dedicated team and see what goodness underground mags are spreading out there in the world. Three cheers for McSweeney’s and their hardworking, slightly unusual staff! And five extra bonus stars to Mr. Horowitz himself, who calmly sat on stage and had his head shaved as a finale to the evening’s discussions. (He kept talking, even with hair in his mouth.)
I mean, if a good ol’ head shaving doesn’t make a literary festival, I don’t know what does!