My Edinburgh: Joe Dunthorne, writer

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

My grandmother, who lives in Edinburgh, regards the festival with suspicion. With its queues, traffic, tourists, mimes, jugglers and student experiential theatre troupes, it's easy to see why. Each year, however, even she is won over by at least one show.

In mid-July, I book almost everything at the Traverse Theatre, because if I wait until the festival has started it will be near impossible to get a ticket. Then I track down a few old favourites like the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed, who I've been a huge fan of since seeing their astonishing show about and by teenagers.

Then there's the Book Festival, which has highlights including Ross Raisin and Ali Smith. It is always worth visiting the Word Power bookshop, which has its own series of Book Fringe events. I'll be seeing some of the interesting stuff at the Forest Fringe, where the shows are free (though donations are welcome). This venue captures the charm and community of the fringe in the days before the comedy juggernauts turned half the festival into an extortion racket.

I won't be seeing any stand-up. Three years ago I saw six comedians in a week and I couldn't remember what any of them had said. The worst performers presented themselves as warriors against prejudice, because they "said the unsayable". Surely we are no longer impressed by this. Taboo-breaking is now utterly safe. What's more, they can never hope to shock my granny.

Joe Dunthorne will appear at the Book Festival on 18 August (in Unbound, 9pm) and 19 August (at 10.15am) (0845 373 5888;

Joe Dunthorne's must-sees

Ontroerend Goed's 'Audience' at St George's West. Ross Sutherland: Comedian Dies in Middle of Joke at the Forest Fringe.