Friday, September 10, 2010

Canal Dreams

In the dog-days of the 20th century, was it late Spring? Possibly, probably? A group of writers, recently finished studying at the University of Manchester pitched up in a quiet early-week Castlefield, at the long gone Bar Abaco(now Choice restaurant) where we assembled the chairs in a semi-circle and read, without a microphone for about an hour to an appreciative audience of friends and literati.

That was the last time I saw Lee Rourke read, and so though we've keep in touch over the intervening years via the internet, and particularly his running of the online magazine Scarecrow, Saturday will be the first time I've seen him for a decade - when, I'm pleased to say, he's reading from his second book, and first novel "The Canal" at Waterstones. I'm not going to review the book just yet, as I'm still reading it - but suffice to say that's he's a writer of ideas, with a romantic heart, and a certain off-kilter neurotic realism where he takes the themes of the age, boredom, hopelessness, ennui, and crafts something poignant and powerful out of it.

The reading's free and at 5.30 at Blackwell's bookshop near the University. I'm very much looking forward to hearing him read, and more than that catching up for a drink with him. All those years ago at Bar Abaco, we stepped outside after the reading and must have walked the canals back into the city centre. This time, the canal is in London, and the title of his novel. There's a nice circularity to that, which wouldn't be out of place in one of his tight, taut stories.

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