Arriving early at Central Hall, I bagged myself a front-row seat and an unencumbered view.

From left to right : Dan Richards (chair), Judith Schalansky, Matthew Green, Cal Flyn

The books under discussion, Inventory of Losses, Shadowlands, Islands of Abandonment. might give the impression that this was a depressing event, but no, quite the opposite. There was much talk of regeneration, nature reclaiming the wastelands, new discoveries to balance things that have been lost,

I decided not to take notes but simply to enjoy the event. This probably freed my mind to appreciate Dan Richard’s skillful chairmanship all the more. The 3 authors on stage, all of whom could easily have commanded a hour-long event on their own, were each given ample time to present and read from their work, respond at length to questions and interact with each other. Richard’s segues from one topic to the next felt so natural. A lot of preparation went into that.

You know that feeling you get when an event is special due to quality of chairmanship, quality of author responses, quality of audience questions. This event had it all including what will probably turn out to be the biggest lie of the festival! Judith Schalansky opened by referring to this being her first ever reading in English, and that she expected to die. Well, not only did she survive, she handled the entire proceedings with panache.

I can’t recommend this event enough. Go watch it for yourselves, it’s available on catch-up until the end of September. But beware, these authors are very persuasive and your wallet will likely take a hit. I got off lightly. I’ve already reviewed Inventory of Losses and Islands of Abandonment is available at my library. I brought a copy of Shadowlands home with me.

Meditation and a packed lunch on the Meadows were called for following such stimulation. It was sunny but cool that day, a distinct autumnal nip in the air. Nevertheless there are worse places to enjoy a wee picnic.