The Gothenburg Book Fair starts today. And no, I’m not there. I did consider it, and at one point recently I thought maybe I could combine it with going to the dentist. Your ultimate ‘buy one, get one free.’ But I dare say books and dentistry aren’t ideal bogof partners.
I’m very fond of the Gothenburg fair. It’s not quite where bookwitch was born, but seeds were certainly sown. At the start, it felt like I’d be going every year. When I’d been going for three years it definitely seemed like I’d be returning faithfully every September.
But then other things happened. It wasn’t always an ideal time to travel, and when lots of other book festival type events closer to home became more and more important, I actually had to choose. Shame, but we can’t always have everything. In fact, I’m too decrepit to cope with doing everything.
There are always interesting people invited. But for it to work for me, it now needs to be people whose work I know, and who I’ve not already seen somewhere in the UK.
They are probably better than most at offering Nobel prize winners. And there is something about the way you accidentally come across some very famous people. The comfort and design of some of the hidden away seating areas beats Edinburgh any day. No mud. No rain. But interminably long and uncomfortable queues for the toilets, which Charlotte Square seems to cope with surprisingly well.
You’re allowed to pop in and out of author talks, as and when you like. The auditoriums are very comfortable. But the tickets are expensive unless you buy a pass for the duration. It’s still pricey, but you get a lot for your money.
If you don’t want to do that, you get a lot of short, informal talks ‘down on the market floor,’ absolutely free. In fact, one of my favourite Swedish blogs is supplying its teen bloggers to chat to Cornelia Funke at one of the stalls this year.
They haven’t yet invited Meg Rosoff, and I really think they should. I’ve told them often enough.
But Amos Oz, Desmond Tutu, Sara Paretsky and Philip Pullman aren’t bad names to be getting on with. And although we initially went for Mr Pullman, I think one of the valuable things for Son was meeting half the people he knew in Sweden at the fair. We went with School Friend and needed somewhere to sit down for lunch. It was very crowded, so I sent Son ahead to scout for seats.
He came back saying he’d run into Pippi and her companion, and they were saving their seats for us until we got there. So School Friend and Pippi finally met, courtesy of books. And there was Librarian Husband of Cousin popping up all over the place. The Cousin herself popped as well. And eldest Cousin-Offspring. And the artist who makes our favourite calendars.
I know. You’re not impressed. It’s just that we have spent years chasing round to meet up with people on our ‘holidays’, and here they were being served up just like that, ‘all’ at once.
And now we have facebook (what’s left of it) and I am friends with people I saw at the fair, and the ones in Sweden are busy getting ready to jump in and enjoy the books for the next four days. And I’m a little jealous.