Title: Writing Home
Author: Alan Bennett
Page Count/Review Word Count: 418
This book was heavy going, but then I was kind of expecting it to be. That’s because it’s basically a collection of Alan Bennet’s short non-fiction covering everything from journals and autobiographical stuff to some of the reviews that he wrote for the London Review of Books.
With any other writer, working through a book like this would have been a chore. With Bennett, it was time consuming and pretty intensive, but he’s a cracking writer and his work is full of humour, and so that was enough to keep me interested, even if it did take a long old while to get there. And of course, it also helped that I was reading it as a bedtime book, which meant that I dipped in and out of it before going to bed.
One particular standout was when Bennett wrote about his mother bumping into T. S. Eliot and not being aware of who he was. Even after her son explained to her that Eliot had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, all she could say was that she wasn’t surprised because he had a nice coat.
Of course, there was also some stuff that I was less interested in, perhaps most notably the sections that were about people I’d never heard of or books that I’d never read. It’s hard to get too interested or invested in stuff like that, and yet they’re inevitable in any book like this. The same thing happened in Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Letters, for example.
But I enjoyed myself for the most part, and I’m still glad that I took on this behemoth because there was a lot to like about it. As to whether I’d recommend it or not, that’s a different story entirely and really depends upon how much of a Bennett fan you are.
If you’re a completionist leader like I am, you’re going to have to get to this one sooner or later, and at least it’s rewarding. In fact, I was pretty happy when I reached the end because it felt like an accomplishment, and I suppose it was.
Don’t go in to this book expecting an easy read, because that’s just not going to happen. The good news is that it’ll make you think, and you’ll also feel as though you’ve learned a bunch of stuff by the time you’ve finished it. So definitely worth reading.