I was very pleased to be asked to do another reading for the Book Club Boutique at the weekend. I didn’t need much persuading. Since this regular Soho literary night was founded by poet Salena Godden and editor Rachel Rayner at the beginning of 2009 it seems to have gone from strength to strength.
Where many in the book trade seem to use Twitter to spam followers with witless promo dressed up as reader competitions and the like, the Book Club Boutique set a standard early on for using social networks (especially Facebook and Twitter) to create a real community around their events. Last summer they worked with James Bridle and Newspaper Club to produce a Book Club Boutique freesheet to give away at festivals through the summer. There’s always a great kind of energy around what they do, and there are always big audiences with a real appetite for literature; as I suppose is symbolised by the gaping mouth of their logo.
I last read for them back in the spring of 2009, when I invited a number of writers (Lana Citron, Matthew De Abaitua, Mark Waugh and Will Ashon – who has just released the story he read on that night as an ebook) to join me for a London Short Story Night. It was great fun.
This latest event, held in the church adjacent to pop-up members club Quintessentially Soho at the House of St Barnabas in Greek Street, was billed (like the Book Club Boutique itself) as the marriage of books, booze and boogie woogie. Other readers included Melissa Mann, the mighty Malcolm Bennett, Stuart Evers and many more. MC Salena Godden was in Generalissimo guise to preside over a mock wedding between books, booze etc, or their proxies i.e. volunteers from the audience, including Graffiti My Soul author Niven Govinden as ‘books’. Here is a typically artless picture that I took with my mobile during the ‘service’ as singer Lisa Lore serenaded the happy trio and audience members queued to pin ‘money’ to them.
Luckily, the photographer Gaynor Perry was also there. Gaynor took some great shots of various writers in action on the night, which she has added to the Boutique’s photo album on Facebook. A couple of them are of me, including this rather good B&W which she has kindly allowed me to reproduce here. Thank you Gaynor.