Tag: Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett – Talking Heads | Review

Title: Talking Heads

Author: Alan Bennett

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 272

Rating: 3.5/5

I was pretty excited when I spotted this going cheap in a charity shop because I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few Alan Bennett books and this is one of his most well-known. I also know that it’s a huge influence on fellow writer and BookTuber Charlie Heathcote, and indeed his Our Doris series is also a series of monologues.

But dare I say it? I think Charlie’s book is better. It certainly made me laugh more, and while the two obviously have a lot in common, I think Charlie leaned more towards writing a good book while Bennett leaned towards writing a good monologue for TV/radio. It’s a subtle distinction, but it just meant that for me, I felt as though I was missing something.

I think that this book is probably better suited to people who are already Talking Heads fans. That’s kind of what it feels like, a sort of spin-off from a TV show. It reminds me of the A Bit of Fry and Laurie book, which was basically just the scripts from the show. It was okay, but seeing them actually performed was better.

I am still glad I read this though, and Bennett as always raises some interesting points and discussion subjects. It just wasn’t quite on the same level as The Lady in the Van, The Uncommon Reader and some of his others. I felt like that about The History Boys too, so maybe it’s just a case of the books sometimes being overtaken by their hype.

Learn more about Talking Heads.

 


Alan Bennett – A Private Function | Review

Title: A Private Function

Author: Alan Bennett

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 308

Rating: 3.5/5

This book basically brings together the screenplays for five of Bennett’s different movies: The Old Crowd, A Private Function, Prick Up Your Ears, 102 Boulevard Haussmann and The Madness of King George. As is to be expected with any compilation like this, I liked some of the screenplays more than others, and by all accounts they were better as stage plays anyway.

Still, I’m glad that I picked this one up, and while I’ve changed my mind and I doubt I’ll be watching all of the movies that were made out of this, I’ll be checking out one or two of them. I think it’s also pretty cool because Bennett is at his best when he’s writing dialogue, at least in my opinion, and dialogue automatically shines in screenplays.

I also think that some of my favourite parts of this book were the introductions to the different screenplays, but then I’ve always liked getting a little extra context on what I’m reading. Strangely, though, that only really applies when I’m reading an author talking about their own work, as otherwise I like to go in pretty blind.

All in all then, I’m a fan of Alan Bennett’s work and so I was pretty happy with it, and with five screenplays in a single collection, there’s a lot here for you to enjoy. Even if you don’t like one of them, you’ll probably like the others.

And if nothing else, it’s a fascinating insight into the way that films are made and the changes that are made along the way. For example, he wrote stage directions for pigs, but obviously there’s no way of ensuring that pigs actually follow them. So yeah, a fun, recommended read. Have some fun!

Learn more about A Private Function.