Rising Literary Stars – a review

Thursday 28th July 2011 is a day that the shop will hold in great affection for many a day to come.

It was the second time that we had run a panel event for Rising Literary Stars and we were blessed with not only five brilliant novelists but also a passionate, informed chairperson and an audience that was thoughtful, engaged and utterly delightful.

Dan, one of the authors, has written a piece here  He, obviously, writes far more eloquently than me so I will just add a few personal thoughts from the evening.

Firstly I must mention Zool, our Events Manager, who had the original idea of hosting an event with a panel of first-time authors a couple of years back. Perhaps not a sure-fire type of event to bring in the audience and get the tills ringing. However, his vision and belief that this is the type of show that we really should put on has proved to be spot on. We, as a bookshop, recognise that there is a thirst for new voices out there and it is a responsibility for us to do our bit to give a platform to the less-tried and less-tested. On a self interested level we also hope that if we pick the authors well then we will give ourselves a chance to develop a strong connection with them as their careers blossom and that connection becomes mutually beneficial over many years (hanging on to the coat tails some might call it)

The sheer variety of the panel; their backgrounds, motivations, routes into being published, even their reading style ensured a natural rhythm to proceedings. Where there was uniformity though was in the extraordinary generosity of spirit that each of them showed – towards the other panelists, to the shop and to the audience. Take it from me, a wizened soul of too many bookshop events to keep count, that not all authors are like this…

After the readings each author was given the opportunity to proselytize about one book. Here’s what they chose:

Rachel Genn chose A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jenny Egan “nothing like it for the past 20 years”
Dan Holloway chose The Dead Beat by Cody James “most raw, honest and funny book this year”
John Butler chose City of Bohane by Kevin Barry *sorry John – I was too busy trying to remember how to spell Bohane to jot down your description of it. Oops.
Naomi Wood chose the At Last the last of the Melrose novels of Edward St Aubyn (Some Hope, On The Edge, A Clue to The Exit and Mother’s Milk being the others) “searingly brutal…absolutely fantastic”
Lee Rourke chose Vault by David Rose “critiques the heroics of the novel”
Nicholas Royle chose Ten Stories About Smoking by Stuart Evers “just brilliant stories”

But the authors were not the only stars of the evening. We sometimes get anxious about attracting big enough audiences for some of our events, but we never have a jot of anxiety about the quality of audience that Oxford always turns out. We needn’t have feared on either count for this event; an audience of over 50 people who contributed great questions but, perhaps more importantly, created an enchanting atmosphere that made the evening so special. Those who came along did us, and the authors, proud.Thank you

The lovely Michele Brenton (who came from Bridgend to be part of the evening) was inspired to pen a poem

So, an unqualified success – if you are keen to come along to future events in the shop do follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, keep an eye on our Online events page or look out for our posters in store to make sure that you don’t miss out on future magical evenings!

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