Greetings, FOBGs (that’s Friends of the Book Grocer to the uninitiated), and a belated happy new year to you all! After an extended holiday slumber (bad, lazy Book Grocer), we return to bring you our weekly picks for the best of London’s literary(ish) events. And so, without further ado, let’s jump right in, shall we?
Today: One too many spoonfuls of sugar this holiday season? Counteract it with a Spoonful of Poisoning at Rhythm Factory tonight. This “chaotic” mixture of open mic poetry, comedy, performance and music should prove the perfect antidote to the Monday doldrums. 8.00pm–midnight. Free.
Tuesday: Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: Some of the world’s greatest writers (a notoriously fickle category, that) are piled together into a hot air balloon. The balloon starts to lose air, and one by one the screaming writers get voted off, chucked over the side and into a shallow grave of inconsequentiality and low Amazon rankings. Such is the creative premise behind PEN’s Hot Air: A Balloon Debate. Kate Mosse, Howard Jacobson and John O’Farrell argue the cases for their favourite authors, but you, gentlemen and women of the jury, you get to decide who survives and goes on to torture literature students until time immemorial. Good macabre fun, no? At the Guardian Newsroom, 7.00pm, £5 PEN members, £7.50 nonmembers.
Wednesday: How to talk about books you haven’t read? We don’t know. We haven’t read How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read – we’re hoping that the book’s author, Pierre Bayard, will let us in on the secret. That a book dedicated to the topic of not reading has been read (or at least bought) by so many in both France and the U.S. might seem a bit counterintuitive, but initial reviews following its recent publication in the U.K. suggest that it could repeat its past successes here. At the Institut français, 7.30pm, £3, £2 concessions.
Thursday: “Capitalism!” you curmudgeonly mutter as you calculate your Crimbo credit card debts. Capitalism, indeed. The rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and no matter which side of the gap we fall on, not a one of us is happy, according to the claims put forth by Oliver James in The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza. James will be in conversation with psychogeographer and Independent columnist Will Self in ‘Making the Rich Richer and the Rest of Us Mentally Ill: The Legacy of Modern Governments’, the first in a series of three seminars at UCL’s J Z Young Theatre. You’ll need a fiver – and a fair amount of anti-zeitgeist anger, wethinks – to get in. 7.00–9.30pm, £5, tickets available from Waterstone’s Gower Street.
Friday: After a busy week deciding who to toss from the literary canon, learning how to b.s. your way through conversations about all those books you’ve never read, and getting your knickers into an anti-Establishment twist, you’re probably knackered. How about some poetry to ease you into the weekend? Ruth O’Callaghan hosts Judi Benson, Dinah Livingstone and William Oxley at the Trinity United Reformed Church in Camden Town, 7.00pm, £4, £3 concessions. Proceeds go to the church’s cold weather shelter.
Have a great week, FOBGs!
Big, beautiful balloon pic courtesy of Schwep’s Flickr photostream