Main content

Nicholson Baker's novel The Anthologist, and The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Tom Sutcliffe is joined by writer Louise Welsh, musician Pat Kane and comedian Danny Robins to discuss the cultural highlights of the week.

Tom Sutcliffe is joined by writer Louise Welsh, musician Pat Kane and comedian Danny Robins to discuss the cultural highlights of the week, featuring gang violence, writer's block and some surprises from Edinburgh.

Orphans is a new play by Dennis Kelly at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre and opens with Danny (Jonathan McGuinness) and Helen (Claire-Louise Cordwell) enjoying a candlelit dinner at home. The meal is immediately interrupted by Helen's brother Liam (Joe Armstrong) who bursts into the room, covered with blood. As his story is gradually revealed, Kelly asks us to consider how far we would go and what moral compromises we would make to protect our families.

Cary Fukunaga is a film maker who isn't afraid of some rigourous research. Prior to making his debut feature Sin Nombre, he made several journeys with immigrants on the roofs of freight trains, heading north through Mexico in search of a new life in the USA. In his film, a young woman, Sayra, sets off from Honduras with her father and uncle, on this same journey. On the train, they encounter Willy, a member of the feared Mara Salvatrucha street gang, who is there to steal from the immigrants. Part road movie, part love story, it also evokes the marginal world of those who risk their lives for the dream of a better existence.

There is a lot of poetry in Nicholson Baker's novel The Anthologist. That's because the protagonist, Paul Chowder, is a poet who is trying to write a foreword to an anthology of rhyming poetry. But his partner, Roz, has left him and his life seems to be falling apart, little by little. His endless digressions about rhyme, poets and poetry cannot disguise the fact that the foreword remains unwritten, he is running out of money and may be having some kind of a breakdown.

At the time of the 18th century Enlightenment, Edinburgh was fizzing with ideas and questions. For its exhibition The Enlightenments, the Edinburgh International Festival has brought together work by nine artists, spread across various sites in the city, which offers a contemporary view of the concepts which were current at the time. They include Tacita Dean's film Presentation Sisters, Joseph Kosuth's An Interpretation of This Title, and Hark! by Gabrielle de Vietri, in which visitors to the Dean Gallery have the news headlines sung to them.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, comprising more than 2,000 different shows. There was only so much that Tom and his guests could see in 24 hours, but they crammed in as much as they could. Danny Robins had the credit crunch in mind when he went to various events under the Festival For A Fiver banner, Louise Welsh was charmed by NIE's My Life With The Dogs, Pat Kane had a magical experience at Power Plant in the Botanic Garden, and Tom went to gaze at Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache.

Available now

45 minutes

Broadcast

Subscribe to the Saturday Review podcast

Subscribe to the Saturday Review podcast

Sign up to the Saturday Review podcast for the latest and past episodes to download.

Podcast