Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories (2005)

It’s hard to describe the appeal of Alan Bennett. His writing is unassuming, even stealthy. When momentous events happen they pass swiftly and suddenly, as they often do in real life, whilst more private moments swell over time.
The lives of his parents are humorously recalled. He assumes a certain self-awareness in his readers, expecting you to recognise echoes of the tragi-comedy of your own life, your own poor decisions and wrong paths taken. The frailty of relationships is an undercurrent – how parents and children survive with one another through leaving the right things unsaid.
He writes about people who are long dead, but captures how the dead still echo in the mind, sometimes to come back at absurd moments in busy lives – waiting in traffic, over the dishes at the kitchen sink, ‘Oh, is it really you?’

The city of Leeds is a moving presence, so sad and weary that the very bricks seem to creak.  Full of character and yet a place furrowed with the cruel mantraps of class. Subtle, understated and catches somewhere deep.


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