Thursday, October 06, 2005

Telling untold stories

Plenty of interesting-sounding new book releases to get my teeth into. Louis Theroux's 'The Call Of The Weird: Travels In American Subcultures' sounds like the sort of non-fiction book I'd enjoy, and what I've read about Brett Easton Ellis's long-awaited semi-autobiographical novel 'Lunar Park' has made it seem an intriguing prospect - come on now He Who Cannot Be Named, I'm expecting a review...

But what brought the biggest smile to my face when I was browsing the shelves of Borders was the sight of Alan Bennett's new collection 'Untold Stories'. I hadn't even been aware that it was in the pipeline (note to self: read the TLS more often). It collects pretty much every short piece of writing Bennett's produced since 1994, when 'Writing Home' was published - and given my love for that, 'Untold Stories' is very definitely high on the wishlist.

Nicholas Wroe has interviewed Bennett on the eve of the new volume's publication. Wroe stays firmly in the background, his narrative simply filling in the gaps between Bennett's own words. The playwright / writer talks about his reading habits, confesses to an appreciation of comedy series such as 'The League Of Gentlemen' and 'Little Britain', and offers a number of observations about what he does: "Writing is an unseemly profession because you seize on things and almost your first reaction is, 'is that something I can write about?'". A sentiment most bloggers can easily understand...

Incidentally, my own reading has picked up after a period of stagnation. Not far to go of the volume of Woolf's selected letters, and also meeting the fairly formidable challenge posed by Pynchon's 'Mason & Dixon' head on. I've been catching up with purchases for quite a while now and hadn't bought anything new until the last fortnight, when I've picked up Martin Amis's 'Experience: A Memoir', Alan Hollinghurst's 'The Line Of Beauty' (remembering that good things were said about it on Troubled Diva last year) and Andrew Motion's 'Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life' (acquired on the strength of Bennett's excellent long review of it in 'Writing Home').

Incidentally - again - while I'm rambling about matters literary, there's also an interview with Forward prize-winning poet and Jerry Springer lookalike David Harsent on the Guardian site, in which he (amongst other things) reflects upon the value of poetry in a way that recalls February's Right To Reply feature on the form: "Poetry is important for the same reason that the arts in general are important. They tell us how we live".

No comments: