Never being boring

Katherine Powers reviews Writing Home, a collection of essays and diary entries by Alan Bennett (actor, playwright, writer, and original cast member and creator of Beyond the Fringe), and calls it “welcome relief from the eye-glazing everyday.” She says:

A melancholy, self-deprecating, humane sensibility is at large in these pages, a sensibility that is offended to its core by the effrontery and despoliations of Ronald Reagan, the first George Bush, and, of course, Mrs. Thatcher (“that voice and little scuttling walk”). He is driven mad, too, by the media’s ceaseless reduction of human suffering to feel-good pap and grief spectaculars. It is the excruciating, unrelenting stream of electronic- and print-generated bilge that drives the boredom-intolerant person to full-blown acedia. This is not good, and it is, in fact, nothing to be proud of. The best writers are those who make the preternatural act of will that it takes to fend off cynicism and despair in the face of all-pervasive cant; to stay fresh, remain curious, and get it right. In this Waugh finally failed, as did Amis and Larkin: All three more or less died of boredom. Bennett has not succumbed and is alive in every demurral, every vignette spied through the miasma, and in every amused observation.


Comments are closed.