Monday, September 26, 2011

My Festival #5: David Gaffney

As we look forward to October, we're asking authors in the city to give us their picks from this year's Manchester Literature Festival programme.

David Gaffney is the author of three critically acclaimed flash fiction collections, Sawn-off Tales, Aromabingo and The Half-life Of Songs, plus the novel Never Never. He is behind the site-specific MLF commission Station Stories which took place in May, and the sound installation Boy You Turn Me with contemporary classical composer Ailis Ni Riain, which runs throughout Birmingham Book Festival (5-12 October). David is headlining the FlashTag Smut Night this Wednesday, 28 September, as part of Didsbury Arts Festival. Coinciding with the launch of a new flash fiction anthology, Quickies: Stories For Adults, the free spoken word event will include readings from a number of North West authors, including Socrates Adams, Chris Killen, Claire Massey, Kim McGowan and Adrian Slatcher, and takes place at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club from 8pm.

Photograph: Conrad Williams

The Ford Madox Brown show may seem on the surface like a bunch of staid unadventurous Victoriana collected by unimaginative industrialists, but Jean Sprackland will find the right words to breathe life into it. I’m hoping for a contemporary, quirky and poignant slant; a way with words to reveal why this work is relevant to the modern day. I’m looking forward to seeing which paintings Jean will pick, and watching her perform her specially commissioned poems next to the pieces in the gallery - always an atmospheric experience.

Because I write short stories people always assume I'll be interested in going out to hear people standing up and reading out short stories. Well, you’d think wouldn’t you? But sometimes when you spend all day writing or editing short stories you want to go out and see someone play the banjo with a dead squirrel or fall into a muddy ditch at Diggerland. But I know that the European Short Stories event, curated by the marvellous Comma Press, will be well worth it. It will be dead squirrels and banjos and muddy ditches all the way for me.

My third pick is the Alun Turing event, coinciding with the publication of short story collection Litmus. I like it when novelists get down and dirty with whitecoated dudes and when I hear what these boffins are working on - nature-inspired algorithms, crowd dynamics and synthetic biology - even the words are thrilling. It makes me feel that’s where the bleeding edge is. Artists and scientists in the sandpit together; all uncanny and outer space.

David's Festival favourites

Ford Madox Brown: Image To Word Tuesday 18th October, 6pm, Manchester Art Gallery (£8/£6 concs, includes entry to the exhibition)
European Short Stories Tuesday 18th October, 6pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation (£5/£3 concs)
Alan Turing & Morphogenesis Sunday 23rd October, 2pm, Madlab (£5/£3 concs)

For full details of all events at MLF 2011 and how to book, visit the website at

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