Eventful Herons – 18 May 2024

‘Do you read in the shop?’ I am often asked.

‘Um. Emails, I suppose,’ is the disappointing answer. ‘And the occasional picture book.’ True genius lies in a good picture book. The customer (or hopeful bookseller themselves) looks a little forlorn. ‘I read some poetry each day,’ I add. I leave out the fact that this is usually at 5am…

It’s a pleasant picture, isn’t it: books in teetering piles, duties abandoned, a large armchair, a bookseller buried in a weighty tome, glass of wine within easy reach. But if there ever was a time when that image reflected reality, then I’m afraid it has passed. Although… sometimes there is a full coupe perched among the books. For a lot of time in the shop is spent organising author events and at these we serve bubbles.

Tonight, our monthly poetry performance moves to after hours in the Arcade. Zoe Brooks will get things warmed up while a glass of champagne* keeps you cool and Rory Waterman will then launch his fourth collection, Come Here to This Gate. Tickets are available online or on the door. We kick off at 6 so come along at 5.45, if you can.

We continue to find the poetry in herons for the rest of the year with:
Ralf Webb and Florence Grieve on 15th June
Jonathan Edwards and Adam Elms on 13th July
Martyn Crucefix and Rainer Maria Rilke (no, really) on 17th August
Elizabeth Parker and Julie-Ann Rowell on 14th September
Glyn Maxwell and Kaycee Hill on 12th October
And a poetry party at the end of November with Carrie Etter. Details to follow.

In other author events:

With Independent Bookshop Week just four weeks away, here is a reminder of our plans for our favourite time of year. Do sign up for the short story group, the poetry group, and submit your flash fiction to our competition.

Outside the shop – and even outside, in the warm sunshine – I have been reading Fast By the Horns by Moses McKenzie. Like his debut, An Olive Grove in Ends, which was set on the Stapleton Road, his second novel is imbued with a strong sense of place. The dividing line between St Pauls and St Andrews in 1980s Bristol is solid and harsh. The story follows Jabari, a young Rastafarian caught up in the St Pauls riots and in an attempt to rescue a child. Or kidnap her, depending on your perspective…  Jabari’s voice is utterly absorbing and the story urgent and unsettling.

Up next, I plan to venture further afield, across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, from the setting of a basement in Edinburgh. Cold Kitchen by Caroline Eden is a food and travel memoir in which the kitchen is both centre of the home and portal to other places. It was recommended to me by Fiona Beckett. And when someone with taste that good – in food, wine and books – tells you to devour something, you do.

Ahead of half term, we have put together a list of exceptional new children’s books here. Alongside our children’s book of the month, Peregrine Quinn and the Cosmic Realm by Ash Bond, I must mention the Lizzie and Belle mysteries. I’ve just read the first one which follows Lizzie, daughter of Ignatius Sancho, investigating an attempt on her father’s life during a performance of Othello. Highlights also include Gordon the Meanest Goose on Earth by Alex Latimer – the story lives up to its perfect title – and The Elephant and The Sea by Ed Vere, which I did read in the shop when I needed to see heroism, determination and large elephants trying to fit into little boats.   

May your weekend be bubbly,

*Read, ‘cava’ or ‘prosecco.’ 

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