Sarah Hall: review and reading

My review of Sarah Hall's The Beautiful Indifference is live at Bookmunch.

I went to see Sarah read in the Deansgate Waterstone's in Manchester on Wednesday. I'd only heard about the event by chance a couple of days beforehand, on twitter, and I guess the advertising wasn't really up to much, because only six people turned up - and that included a Waterstone's staff member. How depressing is that? You hear about ill-attended readings, sure, but still: this is a Booker-shortlisted author in Manchester's biggest bookshop - and Manchester's a pretty literary town. As my friend Andrea commented, that couldn't have been good for sales. It was such a missed opportunity for her fans here, too, because she was excellent - didn't bat an eyelid at the diminished audience, read a section from the first story in the collection, and then conducted a really fascinating Q&A with the half-dozen of us about her writing process, her relationship with her publisher (Faber), her cover designs and all sorts. My now-crawling lunatic baby roamed the rows of empty seats, squawking away to herself, and then made friends with the author (and a lovely Waterstone's lady) and I got a couple of books signed, so a good night was had, but I think Sarah Hall couldn't have been massively impressed by her Manchester public. If any of you get the chance to see her read in the future, jump at it: she's brilliant. (And the book isn't half bad either, of course!)

8 comments:

A. J. Ashworth said...

Very depressing. If I'd known about it (i.e. if it had been advertised better) I'd have made the trip over. A real shame.

RichardS said...

Very surprised. I saw Sarah Hall at the Voewood festival recently and she was excellent.

I'll certainly look out for any of her events around the Midlands.

Claire Snook said...

That's really bad! She sounds awesome though. And who can resist Seren?

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Nobody! She's my secret weapon ;-)

Dan Purdue said...

Sounds like a great collection, Valerie. I've read The Carhullan Army and have How to Paint a Dead Man and Haweswater in my to-read pile. From your review I'm guessing you'll enjoy The Carhullan Army. There's plenty of nature and cruelty in that!

I think I've said it before here, but you're definitely right about Butcher's Perfume. She woz robbed!

Dan.

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Valerie O'Riordan said...

Hey Dan,

I've since read The Carhullan Army and thought it was ace. And I picked up Haweswater in a charity chop last weekend. This winter is like the official Sarah Hall season in my house!

marthawilliams.org said...

Six people turned up? Is that the staff, four adults and Seren? Well, good news that you went, anyway. She must've been glad to see you! And you're crawling -- whoo. We're standing, but not crawling. I'm scared.

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Martha, I'm VERY scared! Crawling, standing, pulling everything out of the cupboards - she'll be walking and climbing on things before I get my head around safety precautions!