Untold Stories is the wonderful sequel to Alan Bennett's classic Writing Home.
Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critcs' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tony's. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009. His collection of prose, Untold Stories, won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. The Uncommon Reader was published in 2007 and Smut in 2011. The film of The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith, was released in 2015 with the tie-in edition spending several weeks on bestseller lists.
In addition to his many theatrical talents, Bennett (The Clothes They Stood Up In) is a fine storyteller. Using concentric circles rather than a linear pattern to tell his family history, he shapes his subjects' lives together into the story of a people, a place, and a time. Bennett's mother had a tendency toward depression and his account of her hospitalizations and his father's tenderness toward her offers poignant insights into their marriage. Bennett also offers a contemporary insider's look at England's theater and movie industries. His memories of fellow actors Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are wry, witty, and honest to a fault. And he gives candid responses to the success of his most recent play, The History Boys, which opened to great critical acclaim at London's Royal National Theatre in 2004 and will open on Broadway in April 2006 (to coincide with the publication of this book). Recommended for all public libraries with large autobiographical sections and all academic libraries with popular reading sections. [Untold Stories appears 12 years after another of Bennett's collections of autobiographical writings, Writing Home.-Ed.]-Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Bennett has been known to British audiences of radio, television, stage and screen for decades. In the United States, he's best known as the screenwriter of The Madness of King George and, perhaps, for his experiences with Miss Shepherd, an indigent woman who set up a succession of vans in his front yard for 15 years. Now he returns with a shaggy collection of autobiographical sketches, diary entries, considerations of art, architecture and other authors, as well as an account of his bout with colon cancer. Returning to the precincts of his straitlaced, working-class British background, Bennett reveals a lost world whose influence and mores have trailed him his entire life. He revisits the Leeds that he knew in the 1940s, where he was first exposed to music and theater, and where his parents, both shy and retiring people, set lack of pretension as the highest value. While he plays the old crank who is put upon by the world as it is, Bennett reveals an eye for detail and a feel for the complexity of human interactions. And though he laments at length his own late maturation-physical, sexual and intellectual-and lack of sophistication, he shows himself to have achieved a measure of happiness. B&w photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.