It was the great John Muir – a man too cool to be famous outside his native Scotland but who still has an entire long distance footpath named after him – who declared that, ‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’
It certainly appears to be what Christopher McCandless believed. The posthumous star of the film Into the Wild gave away almost everything he owned and tramped off into the Alaskan bush carrying ten pounds of rice and little else. His aim was to live a life more in tune with his surroundings (and more in tune with rice, one imagines). Sadly, he found starvation before he came across any magical door into the Cosmos. The self-evident lesson here is that it is safer to give up on the Universe and seek out the Wilderness Within Yourself. If that feels too daunting, try setting your sights lower and looking for the Rice Paddy Within Yourself – if nothing else, it’ll save you from lugging all that organic basmati around with you.
On Tuesday 4 November at our sparkly new venue – the Green Man pub in the aesthetic wilderness that is the Euston Road – we have four pioneering spirits who have agreed to don their rucksacks of literary genius and plough fearlessly into the unknown. In case they are never seen again, we should report that they are the award-winning nature-novelist Melissa Harrison, drama-comedy screenwriter Molly Naylor, up-and-coming illustrator-cum-novelist Maia Walczak and, all the way from the home of the Outback, comedian Sarah Bennetto.
If these four can’t guide you through the wilderness then humanity is almost certainly doomed, a fate no amount of rice will ever put right.
Allergy warning: this evening is produced in an environment in which rice is also present.
Melissa Harrison is a novelist and nature writer whose first book, Clay, won the Portsmouth First Fiction Award and was chosen by Ali Smith as a Book of the Year for 2013. She writes for The Times‘ ‘Nature Notebook’ column and spends a lot of time on Twitter identifying people’s blurry photos of ‘rare’ species, which almost never are.
Maia Walczak is a novelist, author-illustrator of children’s picture books, and an artist. Her debut novel, The Colour Black, was published in Summer 2014 by Jacaranda Books. She is also the creator of The Silent Books – a series of children’s picture books without words. You can find out more about Maia’s work on www.maiawalczak.com
Molly Naylor is a scriptwriter, poet and performer. She makes live storytelling shows and writes scripts for theatre, radio and the screen. Her first comedy drama, co-written with John Osborne, has just been filmed and will air on Sky1 in 2015.
Sarah Bennetto is a stand-up comedian, writer, radio-person, storyteller and wistful vagabond, currently on loan from Australia.
Where? Basement bar @ The Green Man, 383 Euston Road, London, NW1 3AU
When? Tuesday 4th November | Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start | Tickets £6 on the door