Merrion Square, Dublin
It would appear by reports from the front lines that the summer book festival season is upon us -- and by us I mean everyone in English-speaking countries not bordered by the nice Canadians. Yes, I'm looking at all you lucky louts in the UK who got to luxuriate in the Hay-on-Wye Festival over the past weekend, and ahem, I'm glaring covetously at you, too, Dublin Writers Festival, which is carrying on right now this week without me, thanks very much. Those with even the slightest bit of &7 awareness will know the blind excitement the words Dublin, writers, and festival can incite in me (well, maybe not festival -- let's not get carried away), and it doesn't help that I'm on the wrong side of the ocean, roistering in an over-heated Brooklyn apartment while Writer O'This and Scribbler McThat are spilling hilarious anecdotes about their craft to a captive, Guinness-infused, story-loving audience.
I mean, you may as well say, "Welcome to the Envy-on-Wye Book Festival, Therese. Today we'll be offering free single malt scotch and unlimited cotton candy. There's a charming little spot in the shade where you can chortle over the latest Bill Bryson book and afterward you can hang out and enjoy a rousing round of darts with Stephen Fry. Oh, and over in the corner we've set up a private booth where James McAvoy will be reading to you from the Complete Works of W.B. Yeats, starting in five minutes with 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'. Right! Any questions?"
Yes, I do enjoy a good book festival. Brooklyn, of course, is not exactly a stranger to the book festival circuit, and I have to say they do a nice job each year of gathering a fantastic panel of writers to read and entertain. But after flipping through the Guardian's "Hay Special" edition of G2 (I did quite enjoy Decca Aitkenhead's Confessions of a first-time festival goer), I have to say that nothing here even comes close. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I'd love to shuffle off to a charming B&B after a day of readings rather than realizing I've been sitting for the past hour outside the Supreme Court building on a patch of grass marked with a Rodenticide label. Too much to ask? Maybe.
So if you're one of the lucky few who made it to Hay, or are around this week for the Dublin Writers Festival, do send my regards. And make sure to check out the insanely talented Paul Murray on June 5th. I'll be here, crying into my Laphroaig and watching Atonement for the fifth, no sixth, time. I do hope you're satisfied.