Friday, 23 February 2007

Bless 'Em All launch report

Before Miranda Miller's launch, we did, of course, have a launch last week (15/02/2007) for Allen Saddler's Bless 'Em All and before we give you the lowdown on how Miranda's went, we should do the same for Allen. In sharp contrast to the metropolitan setting for the Mephistopheles launch, yours truly, blogger no 2 ( no 1 is 'me' pictured with Miranda Miller below) found himself tearing down the M4 and M5 last Thursday afternoon/evening.

Allen Saddler left his native London over thirty years ago to move to Devon and, from there, built up his writing career still further, while, no doubt, Bless 'Em All was germinating. For a long while, he was the regional theatre critic for The Independent and was often driving in the opposite direction along the M5 from me, reviewing in places like the Bristol Old Vic. It's sometimes forgotten that a literary life can be lived outside the big cities and, in truth, there were just as many people gathered at a country pub/hotel (The Maltsters Arms in Tuckenhay) as there were in Daunt's last night. Instead of turning left out of the tube, though. you simply turned left out of Totnes, hurtled down the hill till you gently rolled over a stone bridge and heard the river babbling by the Maltsters, right up against the bank.

Allen had gathered an interesting crew of Devon folk with a keenness to hear about his book on Wartime London. He gave a talk on the alleys and byways of the English publishing scene at that time: a phalanx of publishers tucked away in the corner of the City that was, literally, blitzed in one night in 1940. This is the central event in Bless 'Em All. Allen then broke convention by reading from his work-in-progress, intended as a follow-up to Bless - The Long and The Short. Again, Allen illuminates the lives of people who have rarely been written about who were living and dying through the war. This time it's soldiers waiting to go to the front and may never get there. From what we heard, it is as raw and powerful as Bless 'Em All, and with another convincing cast of characters. But we suggest you check Bless Em All out first...

It was a fine evening at the Maltsters and our thanks to Allen for masterminding it. So far, in the past year, Peter Owen has had events in both London and Paris, but Tuckenhay in Devon was a match for either of them. Just so you know, the next one coming is Ken Russell at Waterstone's in Gower St (full details will appear on the News page soon) but next up is a report on the Loving Mephistopheles launch....

1 comment:

dovegreyreader said...

Delighted Allen's launch went so well but no pictures of Totnes? I hope you have more out of London West Country launches.I've been waiting years to go to one and then you invite me to this on the VERY day I'm in London!
Disgruntled of Devon