Every month Faber holds its Social at The Social (ha ha). This month’s Social (held on Monday 3rd October) celebrated the art of the short story. The readers were Hanif Kureishi (charming, modest, witty), Sarah Hall (energetic, quiet but with a glint in her eye), Stuart Evers (lots of hair and jokes) and the amazing Edna O’Brien (ingratiating, engaging…lovely). They all read a story from their newest collections, all published by Faber – except Evers, who is published by Picador.
The Social is a mixture of things, one of which is a ‘venue’. How descriptive. It does feel quite a lot like a music venue though; the kind of place you go to see you friend’s boyfriend’s band because you’re being polite. Faber’s event was held in the basement, on the tiny stage with its white plastic lecturn. Benches and tables reach right up to the low stage so it’s rather cosy. And warm. Drinks flowed and the room had to be told to quiet down by Faber’s Lee Brackstone (MC for the night) every time he introduced the next reader. Though cramped and loud, it was a relaxed atmosphere that encouraged cheering and whooping from the adoring crowd.
Kureishi and O’Brien were undoubtedly the highlights of the night. They both read stories that were funny and yet tragic, beautifully embodying their troubled narrators and charming the audience along the way. They also both have lovely speaking voices and read clearly and slowly, engaging the audience and giving them no choice but to listen.
The evening ended on a rather odd but amusing note as Jarvis Cocker turned out to be the ‘special guest’. He read a short story from his new collection of lyrics, published by Faber, and sang a song to accompany it. Both were narrated by his alter ego Darren, an alcoholic with a grumpy ex-wife and strange dreams. Edna O’Brien and her ‘entourage’ (publishers etc) looked a little bemused but clapped politely with the rest of us.
The Faber Monthly Social is open to everyone to attend and details can be found at faber.co.uk/events. It comes highly recommended and it is not hard to see why.
Lizzi Thomasson, October 2011.