We've started a Short Story Club with a couple of friends who live near us. They invited us over yesterday for an Easter roast, followed by some wine, coffee and stories by George Saunders read out loud. We also did a bit of creative writing inspired by Lynda Barry's exercises. (The one where you pick a random noun and have to explore a memory attached to it.)
These friends live in a beautiful loft in Hackney, north of Victoria Park. Wooden floors, books everywhere, vintage furniture
, and now a piano
in the living room. My boyfriend played with it for a bit before requesting we hum 80s synth pop melodies so he could try to pick them up on the piano. I hummed this one-hit-wonder
Halfway through the afternoon, they asked me if I'd like a free one-year subscription to the London Review of Books. They had just renewed their own subscription and won the chance to nominate a friend for the prize. They also gave me a copy of Granta's The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists as they already had a copy. It was Christmas come early on Easter!
I've had a cold this whole Easter break (I only get sick on holidays and long weekend breaks) so it was nice to leave the flat and be a bit sociable. We had to read George Saunders' "Jon" before our meeting - a story about young people raised in a compound for the sole purpose of testing product advertising. When a couple in love decide to leave the compound, the outside world's reality peeks in.
I remember first encountering George Saunders years ago, at the Hay-on-Wye Festival with my boyfriend, naturalbornkaos
. We'd bought tickets to see Zadie Smith interview him (drawn to her celebrity at the time) and we were all converted by his warmth, intelligence and humour. He mostly writes short stories which tend to be funny pokes at modern life. He's a sort of Kurt Vonnegut, actually.
In the evening, after our Easter roast, we walked up the road to the Hackney Picturehouse and watched Cloud Atlas
, which I was surprised didn't suck
. For the complexity of the novel it is based on, I think the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer did a good job. I was particularly impressed with Halle Berry, the best actor out of the whole lot. And, of course, my neighbour Ben Whishaw! I do wonder though how comprehensible the story was for anyone who'd not read the book. Did it do well in America? I'd be surprised!
Today, I'm having breakfast with a friend at the Pavillion
then meeting Silky Bonadutchi this afternoon. Excessive lemsip has done its job and I don't feel so clogged up today. Sadly, this lovely long weekend has gone by too fast...