Words from Stones
Can you make poetry or other forms of literature from stones? At this year’s Portobello Book Festival, an event entitled, SPEAKING TO US FROM THE PAST, chaired by Jim Gilchrist and featuring poet and science writer, Larissa Reid and palaeontologist Elsa Panciroli, demonstrated that indeed you can- if you are Hugh Miller or someone with the technical knowledge and linguistic deftness of the two speakers. I really enjoyed the session and meeting people from the Friends of Hugh Miller, and other attendees such as Anna, who like me, has been captivated by Hugh, and is writing her own novel concerning him.
When people talk about Hugh Miller they often compare him to David Attenborough. There is a great deal of truth in this in terms of his contemporary reach and the way both appeal to our intelligence and our heart. But unlike other “nature writers” or even botanists or zoologists, Hugh Miller was often writing about stones. And he made them come alive!
Brian McLaughlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am fascinated by fiction and fictions, and not just literary ones but all the stories we are told or tell ourselves to make sense of the world and our place in it, by the songs we sing, the poems we recite, the paintings we admire. My novel mixes historical events and personalities with imagined scenes, motives and acts. It also interweaves a web of allusions which I hope people have fun untangling but which suggest just how much of what we see and how we feel is the result of others’ fabrications. In recent years, especially in France and in Spain, several magnificent novels have appeared merging history with fiction. I worry sometimes that this is dangerous and leads to the defence of phrases such as 'MY truth’. This debate is as least as old as Plato. So in this blog, while I invite everyone to ask questions about the book, to make comments about its subjects, I also hope we can widen the discussion to other works and to whether, as one of the chapter titles says, fiction can be “truer than truth”.