This very morning, my last journey down to the du Maurier festival for the year, this time to hear David Lodge speaking about his latest novel Deaf Sentence. Sadly Brian Sewell's talk this afternoon cancelled due to ill health, so wishing Brian well but of course bemoaning the loss of that wonderful and unlikely combination of Sewell and blog review...a blg? Wht on erth is a blg? (For those that may not be aware, to my ear Brian Sewell, art critic extraordinaire, has a cut-glass very economical style of speech, usually through very tightly pursed lips with a glossing over of the vowels, it's enchntng)
David Lodge predictably excellent and, even though I'd read Deaf Sentence, his readings from it felt fresh and new in his own voice. Some writers pull this off; I've listened to a fair few who don't. David Lodge reading with a palpable sense of this text is mine, I wrote it therefore I know what I meant by it and so the emphasis and inflection were perfect.
It's also at this point at any literary event, though I know I have switched off my mobile phone, I have a moment of complete self-doubt about it...did I really? Did I imagine myself doing that?
Difficult, as David Lodge said, to discuss a book that many in the audience may not have read yet, and he gently chastised the reviews of it that give away so much after he'd been so careful to conceal the plot within the book. Fear gripped my heart for a minute as I frantically tried to think what I'd written here, but I do remember not mentioning a great deal for fear of spoiling under my unwritten rule of minimal plot details.
There was interesting discussion about the gradual loss of his own hearing and the fact that David Lodge had chosen to highlight the comic aspects of this. I was delighted to hear that he agreed with me (though he was unaware of this) that the second half of his book is indeed elegiac.
Discussion also about past work and I have added Author, Author to my list for its du Maurier relevance and also The Year of Henry James because I keep hearing about it. To be honest might as well add the whole lot, I'm intrigued to explore the binary opposition that David Lodge centres at the heart of all his fiction and with a comic eye that is so flawless and precise.
And for anyone who is left wondering whether I did indeed have the courage to place a book full of scribbles in front of the man who condemns the practice widely in his book...