Norwich is a beautiful city - that goes without saying. it is also a UNESCO City of Literature with a rich heritage which I hope to explore through this blog.
Today I asked for an early birthday present in the shape of a season ticket to the coming University of East Anglia Autumn literary festival. I attended a couple of these many years ago when I was fortunate enough to hear lectures and presentations from some of the all time greats of world literature from John Fowles and Norman Mailer to Iris Murdoch and Joyce Carol Oates.
Subsequent seasons failed to tickle my taste buds with a seeming preponderance for younger authors. But this year's festival promises to be top notch. It features seven evenings spread over almost three months and featuring Emma Healey, Vendela Vida, Jonathan Franzen, David Hare, Vince Cable (not sure of exactly where he fits in), Richard Dawkins, Amit Chaudhuri and David Mitchell. I'm particularly looking forward to Dawkins and his views of life and the universe.
The festival kicks off with Emma Healey and Vandela Vida on 23rd September. Vandela Vida is a new name to me but Emma Healey is technically a local author, having moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the M.A in Creative writing. So I feel a slight kinship as I have a Master's degree in Professional Development from the UEA. But enough of that. Emma Healey wrote the bestseller "Elizabeth is Missing" which apparently has been translated into 25 languages. A couple of months ago I went to the launch of my village as a dementia friendly area in Norfolk and we were urged to read this book by one of the presenters.
So I did and I have to say I didn't really enjoy it. It seemed very convoluted and somehow dull. I know a number of people who have really enjoyed it. Anyway it's going to be an interesting Autumn on the literary front with a number of other intriguing dates such as events featuring top crime and thriller writers such as Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Andy McNab and Peter Robinson.
In fact the latest publicity drop from the UEA also included details of an exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre (the building on the UEA campus which gives a good approximation of an aircraft hanger). It's entitled "Magnificent Obsessions - The Artist as Collector" and runs from 12th September to 24th January. It presents the personal collections of post war and contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Damien Hurst and many others. Apparently the collections range from mass produced memorabilia to rare art and artifacts reflecting popular culture. Sounds intriguing as it promises to provide insight into their inspirations, influences, motives and obsessions. More about this later.
Then there is a concert by the UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, entitled "An American in Norwich," featuring Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei, Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from On The Waterfront and Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. On Wednesday 9th December the UEA Choir performs its annual carol concert in Norwich's Roman Catholic Cathedral. We attended one of these a couple of years ago and it was a very pleasant evening.
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I like to discover new music whenever possible and tonight on the recommendation of my eldest son I tried a band new to me - Everything Everything. Only had time for a couple of tracks from their new album Get to Heaven. Heard enough to want to return to it when I have a bit more time.
Well that's the first day of the blog out of the way. As I wrote this loads of ideas and thoughts came into my head, which should keep me busy over the coming weeks. Tomorrow books I have read this year and my views on them.