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The Goodbye Library

April 28, 2011

Last night I toddled down to The Goodbye Library which was part of The London Word Festival. It instantly became one of those evenings where I was glad that I’d moved to London for all the different things you can go and experience. Hosted by Jack Underwood and Emmy the Great, a variety of sections found in a library were dissected and turned inside out. The rules stated there was “No awkward silences allowed. Just nice, long library ones”.

Everyone was asked to bring a book down to donate to The Goodbye Library and I took Timbuktu by Paul Auster, which I kind of just didn’t enjoy as much as other Auster books and hoped somebody else did. In return I received Pat Barker’s The Eye in the Door which will be on the waiting pile until I catch up on uni work. Miriam Elia read from her hamsters diary “April 4th. I am refusing to use the wheel. April 5th. I have decided to use the wheel.” and Joe Dunthorne was kind, and brave enough, to relive his gap year experience selling phone lines in Australia.

Definite high point of the evening was Emmy and Elizabeth Sankey reenacting my childhood obsession, Sweet Valley High. My sister and I would watch this religiously every Saturday morning before our ballet class (my achingly middle class upbringing is showing through now). We went through the books with ridiculous reading speed and cost our parents a small fortune. Obviously my sister, the goody two shoes who would one day become an accountant, would prefer to be Elizabeth and I, the sightly more non-conformist sister, was Jessica. (Later I realised Jessica was the way cooler sister and was happier about this set up) Not only did Emmy and Elizabeth act out two hilarious songs about Sweet Valley High but they also asked the audience to join them in a roll call for all the unfortunate, and there were many, people who died in the books.

In addition to everything they packed into the evening, The Ladies of the Press printed a live zine throughout the event! The evening finished rather aptly with the Library closing due to a funding cut. It would have been interesting to see how many librarians were in the audience, also I think it would have been lovely to include a bookmark in your donated book saying who it was from and why it was swopped. But yes, such a good evening!

The lovely Alex MacDonald can be seen there, he not only writes and edits Selected Poems but he also has posture to die for.

More photos can be found here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 2, 2011 12:03 pm

    Lovely blog post, Sarah. It was an excellent night.

    I noticed that a few of the performances you referenced have made their way on to youtube – including the ‘Never had sex’ song ( and, my favourite, Emmy’s ‘Eastern Maria’ (

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