Friday, 18 April 2014

Oxford Lit Festival

Last month I went to the beautiful Divinity School at Oxford for Kathryn Sutherland's absorbing talk on Jane Austen’s teenage writings. There was an opportunity to view some of Austen's early manuscripts and it was fascinating to see her extremely neat slanted handwriting. Afterwards, I went to to the Festival tent for a much needed cup of tea and a slice of chocolate button cake and then took a stroll down New College Lane (as recommended by Lucy Worsley). Even a spring shower didn't put me off walking around the colleges as a lovely mineral smell came off of the old buildings in the rain. I then took a walk to Blackwell’s and bought the new Ann Patchett and Gabrielle Levin's novel The Collected Works of A J Fikry.

It was sweet and funny and sad.  A J Fikry is a curmudgeonly independent bookshop owner with a passion for short stories and a dislike of mobile phones, Kindles and pretty much all aspects of modern life.  After losing his wife he turns to alcohol until he meets free-spirited book publicist Amelia who tries to pitch him her winter list.

I won't reveal what happens but I did love some of Fikry's inspired ranting:
I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult.  I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages.  I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items and - I imagine this goes without saying - vampires. Gabrielle Zevon
Enjoy your Easter break!


Nadia A said...

Happy Easter! This book sounds hilarious and like one that I must read ASAP!!

Audrey said...

I've started this too -- but am trying to finish two almost-overdue books before I go back to it. But I can't wait. He had just wandered into the children's section when I stopped. :)

The festival sounds lovely - I so want to Oxford someday!

mary said...

It was raining last time I was there but it looked almost lovelier, especially the gardens.

JoAnn said...

I'm on the waiting list at the library for The Collected Works of A J Fikry... and loved Ann Patchett's new essay collection!

I have fond memories of Oxford. We managed a day trip on our last visit to London. Would love to return one day.

Cosy Books said...

Oh to be back in Oxford...rain or not! Happy Easter wishes to you and yours.

Ellen said...

Oh, I did enjoy the Oxford Literary Festival when I went a couple of years ago. I love reading novels set in Oxford, such a magical place. Yet another one for my ' to read ' pile, thanks for the recommendation!

Lory said...

I keep seeing this one everywhere... I hope I can pick it up soon!

Bellezza said...

The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry is appearing everywhere! I have it on hold for me at the library, and really, I ought to walk through streets and light showers to buy myself a copy as you did. After chocolate cake, of course.

Penny O'Neill said...

OOo, this sound right up my alley; the book AND the festival.
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Alex said...

Blackwells should have health warning outside! I was there just after you and came out with five new books having sworn that I wouldn't buy any more until I got through the unread pile at home. And the A J Fikry wasn't one of them and I am going to have to have a copy now:-)

Kat said...

I would have loved to go to the Oxford Festival! I was in London (my first time ever!), and thought of getting on the train...but of course the Austen talk was sold out.

I loved A.J. Fikry, published under the title The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry here. (I wonder why the different titles?) I'm glad you enjoyed it. I haven't read any other blog entries about it (except my own!).

Anbolyn said...

Oxford sounds wonderful! I have a copy of A.J. Fikry, but haven't been in the mood for it yet - but I know I will like it when I am.

Sunday Taylor said...

Love the sound of this one! You have never steered me wrong and so this one will go on my list of books to buy next. Your time in Oxford sounds heavenly!

Mrs Ford said...

I have put The Collected Works of A J Fikry on my birthday wish list and can't wait to see if Fikry is as much of a soul mate as the rant you quote suggests....

Arti said...

That must be wonderful! I visited Oxford years ago and was so mesmerized by its beauty. I must go back there and revisit. How lovely it must have been, to sip tea and have cake at a Jane Austen Festival there. Sounds like a dream to me. ;)

Cathy Daniel said...

Your Oxford trip sounds wonderful. I love the extract from this book and am now wondering if I am also curmudgeonly, as I share many of his opinions here! xCathy

Vintage Reading said...

Nadia, I see a lot of bloggers are posting that they enjoyed it, hope you get the chance to read it.

Audrey, the pressure of reading library books is a nightmare isn't it? Someone is always waiting for it!

Mary, oh yes the rain brings out the colour. Beautiful morning glory at Christchurch last year - not out yet this year!

Jo Ann, we have similar taste! I enjoyed Patchett's essays and I don't read a great deal of non-fiction generally.

Cosy Books, there is a magic aboutabout Oxford isn't there? Maybe we need a book blogger gathering!

Ellen, yes I've been to Oxford Lit Fest for the last three years now. I thought it was particularly well-organised this year.

Lory, it's sweet and funny and sad. Hope you enjoy it.

Bellezza, that book is appearing everywhere - for once I'm reading ahead of everyone else!

Penny, festival was wonderful, very-well organised this year.

Alex, darn! We could have gone for a latte. Yes I have a serious Blackwells habit!

Kat, we must have been ahead of the game for A J Fikry because I'm reading reviews everywhere now! Maybe see you at Oxford Lit next year??

Anbolyn, yes, you need to be in the mood - it's a light read but very perceptive.

Sunday, I think you would like the Oxford Lit Fest - hope you can make it one year!

Mrs Ford, yes I found him a bit of a soul mate - although I don't have his taste for alcohol!

Aarti, hope to see you at Oxford Lit Fest in the future!

Cathy, nothing wrong with being a curmudgeon!


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I have this in my TBR stack and I keep passing it over, even though nearly every review I've seen is a good one!