Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Paranoia and laughter

"He looks like Dustin Hoffman," a voice beside me whispered, as Jonathan Taylor expressed his admiration for Blake Morrison. Morrison sat very still and contemplative as Jonathan listed his works and achievements before inviting him to read.

That stillness vanished when the writer took to his podium. Hearing him skip from one influence to the next, via readings of his work, was like having an insight into the mind of Morrison: a glorious mind's stream of consciousness. Blake talked about everything from the enigma of foxes, to the enigma of his late mother, with a stunningly precise choice of words, and often an avuncular wit. He was everything you'd expect from such an accomplished writer: thought-provoking, fascinating and effortlessly likeable.

This likeability extended into his reading of the quite wonderful And When Did You Last See Your Father? and his ballad about the Yorkshire ripper, which came with the warning, "don't worry if you don't understand some of the words - most of Yorkshire don't either!" All this however played support act to the excerpt of The Last Weekend he finished with: a retelling of a playground incident from his character Ian provided laughs, paranoia and exhilaration a-plenty.

A Q&A session ensued. Morrison detailed how on the set of the movie version of ...Father? he was "ejected from a scene of his life", which again raised a murmur of laughter from the audience. That line in fact epitomised Morrison's hour: amusing, astute and intelligently observed - and I wouldn't mind betting that Dustin Hoffman wouldn't have satisfied this crowd as well as Blake Morrison.

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