Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dublin Writers Festival 2008

Whoooop again! I've just been perusing the excellent line-up for this year's Dublin Writers Festival and have already booked my tickets for this event: Tobias Wolff and Anne Enright - Small Wonders: The art of the short story.

Tobias Wolff is probably my favourite living writer, in a lineage running from Hemingway - (I know, I know) - via Carver, so I'm hugely excited at a chance to hear him read / speak / whatever. Coupled with the currently omnipresent Enright, it should be a very interesting evening indeed. Plenty of other cracking events in the line-up, including some kind of evening with JP Donleavy? Pardon the confusion - its just that the programme blurb doesn't give much inkling as to what format to expect other than a 'special retrospective'? I'm a longtime fan of Donleavy's short stories and of The Ginger Man novel in particular, but have to admit I've found his increasingly 'stagey' persona somewhat cloying in latter years. Here's hoping the feet-of-clay factor doesn't come into play with Wolff.

I've pipedreamed before about attending the Creative Writing Program at Stanford, where not only Wolff, but Eavan Boland are on the Faculty (Colm Toibin has been a visiting lecturer there too, apparently playing a part in getting poet Brian Turner to Ireland after seeing him alongside Wolff, at an anti-war reading). So I noted with interest that Wolff's close contemporary Richard Ford has been signed up as adjunct professor in the School of English in Trinity College, Dublin. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer will teach students of the MPhil in creative writing at the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing. There are some core similarities between the two Americans - Ford's lineage running a little more southerly, out of Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. I've relished his short stories, but haven't been as enthusiastic as the broader audience about his Frank Bascombe trilogy. Having read the first book, The Sportswriter, I had enough of Mr. Bascombe to last me for quite a while. Not sure what that means - if anything. I'm sure I'll move on to the other books in the future and I'd be interested to hear what anybody out there thinks of these books - what am I missing here folks?