Four Stories: Alan Bennett

Hello book fans! I realise it has been a VERY long time since I last posted (Easter holidays in fact), but it has been a busy term for me – unfortunately second year university actually counts towards final grades and I got distracted! Reading has been far from my mind, but let me write a post to make up for it.

Way back in the Easter break I read Four Stories, another Alan Bennett book-I enjoyed The Lady in the Van which I covered in another review and features in this collection of short stories. This book comprises radio plays, short stories and an exploration of a TV film.

The Laying On of Hands follows the unravelling of a funeral, as all those in attendance sit in fear of the reason for Clive’s death. As increasing numbers of the congregation are revealed to be linked to the dead man in compromising ways, the story follows the priest residing over the memorial service and the Archdeacon sent to review him. This story manages to make a moral statement about fear of taking risks and the unknown within British society as well as the taboo of AIDs, whilst also using the fact that – sex sells.

The Clothes They Stood Up In is a strange tale of a couple robbed of everything in a bizarre twist of mistaken identity, who in the process of trying to rebuild their lives discover the extent of their repression within their own lives.

Last but not least, Father! Father! Burning Bright explores the experiences of Midgley as he attempts to come to terms with the imminent death of his father, the person he holds to blame for his failures in life. It’s an interesting study of the selfishness of reaction to dying.

These short stories are great for those brief bus journeys. Bennett writes with a sharp witty irony that keeps the reader gripped and on their toes – something rare to find in this format. I would definitely recommend these, whether you are a fan of his previous work or are new to the world of Alan Bennett.

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