There are lurid rumours circulating around this Alpine village that an international literature symposium has taken place, with some of the richest and more recent arrivals demanding that the arch suspect behind the alleged outrage deny it or else. ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe,’ screamed a nightclub freak at the suspect right on Main Street. The suspect’s name, incidentally, happens to be Thomas Gommes.
Now I am the first to admit that reading can be a dangerous waste of time, especially when there are great mind-expanding shows to watch on large and small screens such as Batman, The Masked Marvel, Godzilla vs. King Kong, and other similarly spiritually uplifting examples. Be that as it may, a literature symposium did take place with the support of many people who live here, and its prime mover and organiser was the aforementioned Thomas Gommes.
And about time, too! We’ve had a conference on how to make more money, and an even more popular one on how to live much longer if you’re rich (covered by your intrepid correspondent in this column last winter). A literature symposium is just what the doctor ordered for the residents of a resort known for very expensive chalets, much nouveau glitz, and too much après-skiing.
Granted, bookstores are as rare around here as Fabergé eggs are in downtown Mogadishu, but never mind. The locals are not exactly predisposed to purchasing books, and neither are the visitors. There are only two bookstores – financed by a pharmaceutical heiress, Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, also a symposium sponsor – in the whole valley, which includes the villages of Saanen, Rougemont, Schönried, Gstaad and Gsteig.
Like most good things, WOW (World of Words) started off with a bang. Giuliano da Empoli is an Italian-Swiss writer, a young man of so many talents, so many books, and so many awards that he should have been banned from a resort for the unemployed rich.