This Salon was the first one of a new series of events at Chalkwell Hall, the Metal HQ in Southend. This series is entitled "A Sense of Place" and the 9th May event was dedicated to Southend in literature; Southend as a seaside resort, Southend as a landscape and Southend in contemporary literature.
There are several elements that come together to make the Salon events the success they are: the gorgeous, lovingly refurbished building, the informal atmosphere, the drinks and food, the pop-up book shops — The Book Inn from Leigh-on-Sea and Hoxton Books.
But it is the high calibre of the guests that never fails to impress.
For the 9th May Salon, host Rachel Lichtenstein had gathered a small group of readers to read extracts of the books she had chosen to illustrate the night's topic. There was Alan Dein, broadcaster and oral historian, whose lively reading of a long evocative excerpt taken from Simon Blumenfeld's Jew Boy was one of the highlights of the evening; Justin Hopper, an American artist, writer and curator — currently in residence at Chalkwell Hall — was drafted in to add an authentic American voice to an action-packed extract — set in the Thames estuary — of H.G Wells's The War of the Worlds; eminent freelance journalist, writer and editor C.J. Schüler talked about and read an extract from Norbert Gstrein’s The English Years; finally, the ever engaging writer Syd Moore read a scene from the opening pages of her excellent novel The Drowning Pool (see my review of the book HERE) set in Leigh-on-Sea.
The reading list was incredibly diverse: from Jane Austen’s Emma to Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong; From Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould’s Mehalah —about which I had briefly blogged about HERE and which you can read HERE — to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations — in order to see the landscape described in the book for yourself, you can actually do a walk around the Tollesbury area where this year’s BBC adaptation was shot.
SALON 9TH MAY reading list:
Jane Austen – Emma
Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
H.G.Wells - The War of the Worlds
Sylvia Townsend – The True Heart
Simon Blumenfeld – Jew Boy
Paul Gallico – The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk
Warwick Deeping – Mr Gurney and Mr Slade
Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
Bernard Cromwell - The Burning Land
Simon Schama - Landscape and Memory
Norbert Gstrein – The English Years
Syd Moore – The Drowning Pool
The next Salon event is on June 5th and will be dedicated to London in literature.
I think therefore I write.
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