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Nottingham Castle

Broadway Irvine Welsh

13 August 08 words: James Walker
Fighting, drinking and could only happen on Broadway

The Broadway cinema in Hockley has brought a literary buzz to the city with an impressive series of talking heads events with top name novelists followed by a showing of one of their cult works. Local author Nicola Monaghan is the hostess with the mostess, holding an informal conversation with the authors before letting the public loose with their questions.The choice of Monaghan as Parkinson-in-skirt is an appropriate one, particularly given the content of her first two books, and so was more than able to deal with questions relating to drink, drugs and brawls from the respective authors.

Alan Sillitoe kicked off the series to celebrate fifty years since his seminal debut Saturday Night Sunday Morning. He was engaging as ever, sporting a long silver beard which would easily enable him to pass as Gandalf’s body double, though the BBC took control of this particular interview.

There were many magical elements to the Sillitoe event, particularly when he revealed a well known story about his mother burning some of his earlier stories because she feared they would incriminate the family, having detailed the antics of his deviant cousins. A warning perhaps to all aspiring authors whose earlier works tend to be autobiography masquerading as fiction.

The highlight though had to be an impromptu question from an elderly man in the audience. Firstly, he declared his surprise at finding a Sillitoe novel abroad, as if such a thing was an act of sorcery. Then he asked if the author had written a couple of other books he possessed and seemed surprised when he was told no. But the most humbling and poignant question of them all was when he asked if Sillitoe would inscribe the very book he had brought on that foreign extravaganza. A stunned Sillitoe replied yes and the elderly man promptly left his seat, slowly making his way to the stage, proving conclusively that not all of us live in a faced paced world. Sillitoe did not laugh at the man like the rest of the audience, instead he gave a personalised inscription and wished him well, revealing a kindness and tolerance of people which we would perhaps not have seen had the man been familiar to the etiquette of the roving mic. 

The second event featured Irvine Welsh, touring his critically acclaimed tenth novel Crime with Trainspotting the featured film. Welsh has come a long way since immortalising the Leith Walk and smiled in wry recognition that Renton and chums were now required reading for spotty teenagers sitting GCSE English.

 We were particularly keen to talk to Welsh (interview to follow) as he is arguably Scotland’s closest version of Sillitoe. Both authors have strong regionalised voices thanks to their respective settings of Nottingham and Edinburgh. Both authors also write about these locations from a distance. Sillitoe is now based in London after numerous spells abroad whilst the equally adventurous Welsh lives between Miami and Dublin. Irrespective of chosen location, there is clearly something evocative about exile which enables both to reproduce such authentic regionalised identities through their work. The final similarity is the way their characters dip in and out of other novels. Crime, for example, features a washed out Ray Lennox who first appeared in Filth. He is also working on a pre-Trainspotting novel, proving that you don’t have to be George Lucas to do history in reverse.

One of the downsides of writing about a specific region is that you are in danger of constantly being harassed by locals who presume that certain characters must be based on them, though Welsh confessed experiencing the opposite problem. It’s the psycho’s who have no self-awareness that are the problem ‘Who kens a fuckin’ c*nt like Begbie’ he said, impersonating one such drunken lout from past acquaintance.

To wrap up the series, Chuck Palahniuk will be reading from his new novel Snuff a title which could easily have been penned by Welsh. It is the story of Cassie Wright who attempts to break world records courtesy of six hundred men and a video camera. If only Roy Castle were still alive…

This is a great opportunity to meet and talk to the author of Fight Club on the back of what has been a tremendous literary output from Broadway. And if you can’t make it because you’ve booked that flight to Ibiza, fear not, we’ll be interviewing him for the next issue of the magazine.

Chuck Palahniuk will be appearing on Thu 14 August, 6pm
Interview + Fight Club: £8 full/£6.50 concessions
Interview Only: normal ticket prices apply

Chuck Palahniuk Interview

Broadway's website
James Walker's website


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