On Friday night I went to Beyond Cuisine, the opening event of the Williamstown Literary Festival. Held in the Williamstown Sailing Club (exquisite views of the city), Beyond Cuisine was a "theatrical dining experience", or in other words, a dinner complemented by readings of selected works of fiction. There were six readings in all:
1. Miss Brill, a 1920 short story by Katherine Mansfield, read by Helen Morse
2. Cannery Row (Chapter 4) by John Steinbeck (1945), read by Reg Evans
3. The dog of the marriage, a contemporary short story by New York writer Amy Hempel, read by Suzanne Shubart
4. Francis Silver, a short story by Australian writer Hal Porter, read by Paul English
5. The lady's maid, another short story by Katherine Mansfield, read again by Helen Morse
6. The secret life of Walter Mitty, a short story by James Thurber, read by Reg Evans
In all, it was a lovely evening, and the readings were fabulous. Having stories read by actors, who essentially interpret the story for you, is the next step on from audio books. It's even more of a performance. Ideally, though, I would have liked there to be a break between the readings, perhaps even between each reading, in order to allow for discussion -- plus a breather from concentrating so hard.
Nevetherless, it was good to get out and do something cultural. Most of the stories were amusing, or at least partially so, so it was all very easy to take!