Saturday, 29 November 2014

Books on Tyne

Yesterday afternoon I attended a rather spiffing event at Newcastle Central Library, as part of the Books on Tyne literary festival.

Genre expert and author Dr Gail-Nina Anderson delivered a brilliant talk on the Gothic, offering an overview of literature, movies, works of art, and the way high and low culture combined to produce a uniquely modern sensibility. Only she put it better - if you ever get the chance to hear her talk about anything, take it. Then Ray Russell of Tartarus Press talked about the world of book collecting, its pleasures and perils, and the rise and fall of the odd little bookshop. There was also a Q&A involving Ray, Gail, Rosalie Parker (the other half of Tartarus, so to speak), and local bibliophile Malcolm Henderson. It was one of those two hour sessions that could easily have lasted two days, such is the scope of things Gothicky, as Ray put it.

Coincidentally, on Friday morning I attended a funeral, which is I suppose the ideal precursor to considering all things Gothic. Do we deal with mortality by accepting it, ignoring it, ritualising it, disguising it? Arguably some horror fiction trivialises death by focusing on it as a minor plot device. And yet horror clearly offers comfort and reassurance, in its way, otherwise it wouldn't be popular. These and other thoughts are sloshing around in my head.

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