Tonight at the Malta Book Fair I got to attend the event tsek-tsik, organised by Merlin Library. The idea is that each speaker gets to choose 15 projected slides to go along with their presentation, but the catch is that each slide is only displayed for twenty seconds, and then the next one comes up. This forces the speakers to keep moving along, which is great for the audience, and since the speakers have to prepare carefully, they come up with great content.
Tonight's line-up featured five writers, an illustrator, a designer, an editor, a publisher and (my personal favourite) a reader.
Ġuzé Stagno and Mario Azzopardi gave potted autobiographies, while Pierre Portelli, Mark Scicluna and Claire Azzopardi combined autobiographical details with descriptions of the creative process. Trevor Zahra hilariously explained to us how not to write a book, Claire Bonello gave a dry but very timely talk on censorship, and Pierre J. Mejlak distinguished himself by pouring forth a logorrheic stream of narrative at such a speed that it was all I could do just to follow him.
Chris Gruppetta shared about the joys of being a publisher (mostly that it is creative power trip) and I very much enjoyed hearing Pierre Portelli talking about reading and its importance in the development of a well-rounded person.
Not surprisingly, there were several mentions of last week's censorship of Alex Vella Gera's short story, 'Li Tkisser Sewwi', which is written from the point of view of a misogynistic and sex-obsessed young man in a style somewhat reminiscent of 'A Clockwork Orange'. But that's a whole other post.
The event's publicity had advertised 'ten and a half' speakers, so, like everyone else, I was very curious about the half-a-speaker. It turned out to be actor Toni Attard, who gave a performance as 'the unpublished author', reviling publishers for refusing to publish his epic novel even though "bgħattulhom bil-Word, kull ma kellhom jagħmlu jagħfsu print".
After listening to all that talk about books, I was itching to read something in Maltese, so I went back to the Merlin stand and bought '45' and 'Il-linja l-ħadra', which I started reading over supper.
Watching tsek-tsik was very entertaining, because besides the rollicking pace, the speakers threw a lot of humour into the mix, and I'm very glad that I went. It was worth the trek down to the MCC and back up again! The more I discover about Merlin, the more impressed I am. When Sapienzas closed down, I was left bereft of a favourite bookshop (Agenda doesn't count because it is staffed by salespeople, not book-lovers). I'm glad that I now have a new one.