The final talk that I attended at the Book Festival was on Sunday 23rd of August, The Poems of Iain Banks, with Ken Macleod, a Scottish Science Fiction Writer, and lifelong friend of Iain Banks. The event was chaired by Stuart Kelly. It had been an interesting talk, suggested to me by fellow blogger, Stephen P. Blanchini, his blog is aptly named The Earthian Hive Mind: http://earthianhivemind.net/
I learnt a great deal about Iain Banks from this talk, and was struck by Ken Macleod’s obvious sadness that this lifelong friend that he had had the pleasure of knowing for such a long time was no longer with us. Very sad, it must be extremely hard to discuss a friend you have shared so many memories with over so many years, in such a public way particularly when you have had so much in common. I shall be delving into Iain Bank’s writing, and his poetry to find out more, but at this juncture I don’t feel I can do him justice by writing an in-depth article about the talk as in truth I just don’t feel I know enough about him, yet…. The fantastic thing about these talks is their ability to make you curious, and encourage you to read the author’s work which can only be a good thing. Ken mentioned that Iain’s strangest novel was A Song Of Stone, this features heightened prose, and a strongly dislikeable character. Iain was apparently disparaging about his final novel The Quarry. Ken suggested that The Quarry demonstrates a gentler revisiting of themes that appeared in his earlier novels. Ken said that there is almost an alternating nice hopper, nasty hopper with some of Iain’s books such as Whit, (about a young cult member,) Stonemouth, (this follows a man returning to a small seaport town after leaving due to a sexual scandal,) and Quarry, (which deals with an autistic youth, Kit, and his father, Guy, a misanthrope who is dying of cancer,) fitting into the nice hopper. The Hydrogen Sonata, a science fiction novel set in a techo-utopian Culture universe is possibly more optimistic too, though it takes part in Hell!
Sadly, Iain Banks died of Gallbladder cancer, as a token of the esteem he was held in the asteroid (5099) Iainbanks was named in memory of him shortly after his death. His dying of Gallbladder cancer got me thinking, I myself had a polyp in my Gallbladder which was discovered last year and I was operated on in October 2015. For a long time my symptoms were misdiagnosed, it took a trip up to Edinburgh, and a Scottish doctor to diagnose it immediately. The polyp was most probably benign but still it does make you think, that tiny polyp gave me so much trouble I’m so glad I went ahead and had my Gallbladder removed. Poor Iain.
After the talk the weather was so nice that I felt it would be a crime not to stop for an ice cream, so I stopped right by the large advertisement for the Book Festival that you can see at the top of this blog post. I had a feeling that I should wander on a bit and find somewhere that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, but there was no certainty that I’d find this wonderful childhood favourite which we used to eat in Musselburgh. So I settled for an ice-cream van at this spot, I fancied a chocolate wafer, a Scottish ice cream delight but was a bit disappointed to find that they’d run out, so I had to settle for a humble ice cream cone! Still it was very tasty and I lapped it all up. Of course, the inevitable happened I found a place along in the gardens that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, too late, I should have listened to that psychic voice telling me to wait! I couldn’t really justify buying another ice-cream so soon after the last!
As I ambled my way along Princess Street gardens taking in the sights I came upon the magnificent flower clock, this is a must see if you’re ever in Edinburgh, it is really pretty, especially on a sunny day. The floral clock can be found half way down the stairs into the gardens across from the National Galleries, at the foot of the Mound, commissioned in 1903, it was the first of its kind in the world. Oh, and amazingly it tells the correct time in flowers! How cool is that! Unfortunately my photographs could have been a bit better, there were a few shadows lurking about but still it does give you an idea of how lovely it is. I like how this wonderful display of flowers celebrates Books, Words and Ideas. Of course Edinburgh, my old home town, is the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world, and deservedly so.
More about that here: http://www.cityofliterature.com/edinburgh/
So it was time to say farewell to Edinburgh until the next time. Time to go home and see my hubby and my daughters!
I do hope you have enjoyed all of my Edinburgh posts, I have bombarded you with so many of them but my excuse is simply this, I used to live in Edinburgh, I grew up and had many memorable teenage years there.
I love the city and always will.
Bye for now.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx