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The newbie’s guide to nailing Open Book 2018

By Mila de Villiers

Eight steps to make your literary journey easier:

1. Cape Town is known as ‘Slaapstad’ for a reason. Wake up at 7h15. Scroll through Insta-G. Write in your dream journal. Have coffee. Meet up for brunch. Arrive at work at 11h30. Leave at 16h. Lekker, nè? Yet for four nights and five days (5 – 9 September) Open Book’s festival programme will keep local bibliophiles busy from 10h to 21h30. What I’m trying to get at is that the days are loooong. Plan your sessions accordingly. You wouldn’t want to overexert yourself, forget to set your alarm and miss the opportunity to show off the grainy IG picture you sneakily snapped of a Man Booker Prize winning author over brunch the next morning, now would you?

2. Live tweeting is #LitFam, but pick your seat wisely if you’re going to spend the next hour or so sending 140 characters into the Twittersphere. Try to avoid the, ahem, mature members of the audience. Your screen is ‘too bright’, taking photos is ‘distracting’, your incessant typing is ‘symptomatic of the younger generation’s lack of social mores, inconsideration, ageism, avo toast-ism, craft beer-ism, nihilism’. Etc etc.

3. Cool. You’ve organised a kief spot a safe distance away from the Luddites. Next step? Memorise Twitter handles like you’re revising for your grade nine Biology: Paper 1 exam. (“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell!”) And double-check that the person you’re @’ing is, in fact, the legit author and not, say, a Trump-supporting troll or someone who’s been verified for having their plea to re-open the Nando’s in Stellenbosch re-tweeted 666 times.

4. If you missed the opportunity to ask an author for their signature after a session or forgot to pose for a selfie – not to worry: simply loiter in the foyer of the Fugard Theatre. Not unlike wildlife photography, you’ll have to be patient. And preferably station yourself in close proximity to the natural habitat’s most popular watering hole. (Aka the cash bar.)

5. Selflessness, thy name is Day Zero. And best you remember (and respect) this, whilst simultaneously reminding affiliates of the international literati squad that “soz, esteemed author of Nordic noir, if it’s not a number two, you unfortunately can’t flush the loo”.

6. “Sorry ma’am, we don’t serve tap water anymore … Yes ma’am, we do still serve [insert an alcoholic beverage which, if you so request, will be served on the rocks despite tap water being the PNG of the Mother City's liquid universe, here]“. Bars – of both the Kaffee and debauched variety – are abundant in Cape Town’s city bowl / the vicinity of Open Book venues. Hotfoot to Haas Coffee, Truth Coffee Roasting, Vida E, Swan Cafe or New York Bagel if you need a caffeine kick during the hour-long break between sessions. Or if you fancy something with a skop (and the Fugard foyer is too packed with authors), the Kimberley Hotel, Dias Tavern, Perseverance Tavern, German Club, Lefty’s and Roxy’s are all within walking distance* from Open Book HQ. (*Yes, Jo’burgers – you’ll be walking. A lot.)

7. ‘Book’ applies to more than the noun we devote our daily lives to. Tickets for popular sessions go faster than that first gulp of Leopard’s Leap after a marathon day of attending discussions on topics varying from normalising menstruation, to self-publishing, to the future of spec fic, and trusting sources in an age of public mistrust. Kanti, kry daai kaartjies!

8. We’ve all schlepped through Moby Dick, attempted/pretended to understand Ulysses, and written half-hearted essays on the significance of the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. But how many of us have ever attended a comic book workshop, a spoken word event, or a poetry reading? Enter Open Book – a festival which caters not only for English majors but all of those interested in the Art of Books and the Ways of Words.

Brava, OB 2018!


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