It's a lovely shop, the staff are all both friendly, knowledgable and passionate about books. And upstaiurs there are comfy chairs and free coffee, if you need a break. And they have theirn own loyalty card to get money off books. And the walls of the toilets are papered with reviews and poems. Did I mention that I like this place?
And I've been looking forward a lot to this event. I booked as soon as the event details went up. In fact, I bought the tickets first, and asked Cheryl if she wanted to come afterwards (she did, obviously. I mean, who wouldn't?)
It turns out that when Mr. B's do an event, you don't just get a writer and the chance to buy books. You also get live music with originals songs by The Bookshop Band, and delicious nibbly finger food, and wine, and mingling with interesting people, AND a writer and the chance to buy books.
I approve of this. A lot.
I especially approved of it yesterday, as I had, up until I got to Mr. B's, not been having a very good day. I had a new case, so I had to go to court at short notice. I was expecting it to be a relatively short hearing, but we ended up in being in court from 1.30 til 6, with things such as lunch, and indeed any kind of break, or access to coffee, being but a distant hope. So getting to Mr. B's and being offered wine and nibbly things and interesting people to make conversation with was even more welcome than normal!
Having arrived at the shop, and met with Cheryl and her friend Pat and (briefly, China himself) we went upstairs and the evening started with music from The Bookshop Band (Ben and Poppy) who performed two original songs inspired by EmbassyTown.
Then China spoke a little about Embassytown, (carefully avoiding spoilers, for those of us who haven't yet read it) and about the thedme of the evening, which was 'Corruption'
One of the very nice things about this event was that it was small. I'm not sure how many people attendted, but I would guess around 30 - few enough that it was genuinely possible for there to be a conversation, rather than a 'talk' - the conversation ranged from method of writing/planning so as not to get lost in one's own plot (China uses flowcharts), the invention of language, with particular reference to the word 'Immer', and what headaches this may present for whoever tranaslates Embassytown into german, and mention of the fact that when King Rat, which contains lots of 19th Century ryhming slang, was translated into Japanese, the translator didn't ask for any clarification, leaving chian wondering whether the either (a) The translator happened to be an expert in 19th Century slang or (b) Japanese readers have some very odd literal translations in their version of the book..
after the first part of the evening, we stopped for food and wine and chat. (Someone (NOT me) asked China about letting us see the whole of his tattoo - he declined to take his short off, but you can see the whole thing here, Nathalie!) then back upstirs again for part two of the evening, in which members of staff, members of the audience, and China all suggested books on the theme of corruption - one of which was Documents Concerning Rubashov the Gambler , another (recommended by China, for those who like their vampires Mod and dangerous, was 'The Shiny Narrow Grin' by Jane Gaskell (which is out of print, and hard to find...) Patrick Ness's ''Chaos Walking' also got a shout out..
The City and The City (signed) which was available for each of us, before hesding back home.
As you may have gathered, I really enjoyed the evening. This is the first time I've been to one of the Mr. B's events, but I think I shall be going to more. Sadly I shall miss the evening with Patrick Ness on 16th June, as I shall be in a cottage in Wales with no electricity, but I am sure there will be other events when I'm NOT in Wales..
Oh, and for those of you who haven't seen it, there is a short story by China here in the Guardian. Enjoy!