Something rather cheerful appears to have
happened to A.L. Kennedy of late - she fair bounced into the RBS Main Theatre
of the Edinburgh International Book Festival for her eight o' clock slot.
Admittedly, A. L. has had a very good year, her most recent novel, Day, deservedly taking what continues to be the highest profile literary prize in the
U.K. (The Costa, formerly Booker Prize).
Increasingly, though, folk recognise and think of her as a stand-up comic
who refers to her written output as "the typing thing." That's harder to do,
however, now that she has eleven published works more or less continuously in print,
teaches at the University of St. Andrews, and continues the relentless round of
book fests and promotional touring which are the fate of best selling as much
as less selling authors.
Still, a few things to be cheery about in between the
strange sets of digs Kennedy described when not talking about other, sometimes
more serious things. The other things included, unsurprisingly, "the typing
thing," and award winning - in this case the undignified situations you can be in
when a telephone call brings good news. There's a noticeable fresh sharpness to
A. L. Kennedy, comedienne, delightfully ranging over aforesaid accommodation,
carpet laying, but above all the power of stories to transform and of words to
empower or disempower all of us.
Her appearance was a wee bit of a high wire
walk at times, dizzying and impressive, but unquestionably grounded on the big
questions those who work with words sometimes, possibly not often enough, ask
about why we do what we do and whom we do it for. Kennedy has the very enviable
ability to juxtapose the everyday and ordinary with the magical and precious, an
ability which carries over from her writing to her comedic presence. A capacity
crowd clearly enjoyed their hour with one of Dundee's additions to Scotland's national
Times: Aug 11 at 20:00
Copyright Bill Dunlop August 2008
Published on EdinburghGuide.com August 2008