Monday, 31 July 2017
Curious Arts Festival - author event - Eimear McBride
Usually I feel the public (including me) goes along to a book event to see an author that they've read and loved, but I was drawn along to this event for the opposite reason - I've heard such a lot about Eimear McBride's work but not read any of it!
It was impossible to miss the excitement among the book blogging community over her first novel A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, but somehow I'd flagged it as 'to read when there's time', and then forgotten it. Then her second book was published and I found myself lagging even further behind, but also at that place where you begin to wonder if anyone ever could live up to the hype (and having seen the reviews on you-know-where while writing this piece they're mixed to say the least!) Hearing McBride talk about, and read from, her book seemed like the ideal way to get to know her and her work better - and, from the snippet I heard, I now want to rush out and read both books!
Georgina Godwin started the event by discussing McBride's early life, and its possible influence on her work - she was born in Liverpool to Irish parents, whose work as psychiatric nurses undoubtedly opened the door on a world of emotionally and mentally disturbed people. The family moved to Sligo when McBride was three, and since then she's moved to England (London, this time for drama school), back to Ireland, back again to England and somewhere in between lived in Russia. Her first novel, A Girl is A Half-formed Thing accompanied her on some of these travels until a random conversation in a Norwich book shop led to her meeting her future publishers Galley Beggar Press. The original print run was for only 500 copies, then the Times Literary Supplement ran a favourable review and the number was doubled. All sold out in a month!
Meanwhile, McBride had started writing The Lesser Bohemians - working on it for nine years and at one point having written 800 pages before cutting most of it.
She admits to being influenced by both Dostoyevsky - for his concept of hidden narrative, which isn't strictly necessary to the storyline but which when revealed gives a whole new slant to it - and Joyce (though a bit tired of being asked about him, as if there's no other author an Irish writer can be compared to) for his use of language, and stream of consciousness style. Her acting training plays a role in her writing as she tries to make language do the same as Stanislavsky's 'method' does, incorporating everything both important and trivial, so inhabiting the character in a way that the reader becomes privy to everything inside and out.
All in all a fascinating insight into the author and her work. This is the publisher's 'blurb' for The Lesser Bohemians -
"An eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor. This older man has a disturbing past that the young girl is unprepared for. The young girl has a troubling past of her own. This is her story and their story.
The Lesser Bohemians is about sexual passion. It is about innocence and -the loss of it. At once epic and exquisitely intimate, it is a celebration of the dark and the light in love" -
and following a short reading from it, I'm determined that at last I WILL get hold of a copy and read it!