s u m m e r ..r
e a d i n g
One of the many pleasures of having an interest in Alan Bates's
work, is the literary nature of many of the projects he chose.
Here are five titles representative of his activities in the
Two plays by Yasmina Reza
presumably needs no introduction, though it will surprise some
that it is such a good read. (Though I can not imagine it as
a film, it translated brilliantly to radio.)
"In the Company of Actors,"
by Carol Zucker
In "The Unexpected Man," "... He
is a well-known novelist, she a passionate admirer of his work.
She has his latest book in her handbag, and would be reading
it, if she did not fear his reaction would be embarrassing or
disappointing. In an evening lasting an hour and a quarter, it
takes 50 minutes for him to break the silence, 60 for her to
start reading his "The Unexpected Man," and roughly
73 for them to acknowledge who they are and what they feel. Order
them online from Amazon
or Barnes and Noble.
interesting book includes an interview with Alan Bates.
"...Visiting the major acting schools in England, reading
every interview she could get her hands on, watching countless
films and plays, and sending out hundreds of letters, Carol Zucker
finally winnowed her cast down to two dozen. (Eight were later
"painfully" edited out by the publisher.) She asked
each actor for a minimum of three hours interview time. ...
"Love in a Cold Climate"
and Other Novels
The result makes for fascinating
reading. Here are some of the greatest actors of our time thinking
out loud about their craft: What is it to prepare for a role?
What is the difference between acting for a live audience or
the camera? (British actors tend to work in all forms.)
What are the differences between
U.S.-style "method" acting and the more classical British
and Irish style of acting? In the process of talking about these
highly subjective subjects, one also gets a mini-course in the
history of modern British and Irish theatre and a real glimpse
into the mind and soul of an actor.
"I got wildly different answers
to the questions, the questions being a way of getting at the
actors' personalities," Zucker said. "Alan Bates,
for example, got such a kick out of everything I asked. He thinks
deeply about everything. ..."
by Nancy Mitford
Penguin Books; ISBN: 0141181494
Mainly About Lindsay Anderson,
Gathering three of Nancy Mitford's most famous works --The
Pursuit of Love and The Blessing are included here
alongside Love In A Cold Climate--this collection is the
perfect introduction to a writer of great wit and charm, a singular
voice in modern English prose whose themes are deeper and more
profound than brief acquaintance might suggest. The first two
novels, especially Pursuit..., are semi-autobiographical:
the Radletts of Alconleigh are portraits of Mitford's own eccentric
clan, while she herself appears as Fanny, a family cousin and
the novels' narrator. The irrepressible, precocious Radletts
provide many of the early instances of Mitford's deliciously
There was much worse drama when
Linda, aged twelve, told the daughters of neighbours, who had
come to tea, what are supposed to be the facts of life. Linda's
presentation of the "facts" had been so gruesome that
the children left Alconleigh howling dismally, their nerves permanently
impaired, their future chances of a sane and happy sex life much
Following the amorous trajectories
of Linda Radlett and of Polly Hampton, the first two books here
are at once extremely funny and deeply serious, delineating the
possibilities for love in a world circumscribed by the formal
expectations and conventions of marriage. Mitford's heroines
dramatise the search for a true or ideal relationship, regardless
of social institutions or sexual orientation. If her casual attitude
to adultery and, particularly, her portrait of Cedric--a gay
character who is charming, flirtatious, and above all happy--resulted
in her work being vilified by contemporaries for its "decadence"
and "immorality", her exploration of female sexuality
seems now to be resolutely modern, arguing the right to happiness
Nancy Mitford's considerable literary
output--biography, journalism, translation, fiction--has been
somewhat eclipsed by the biographical extravagance of her extraordinary
family: her sisters Unity and Diana (the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley)
were enthusiastic fascists who notoriously cultivated the friendship
of Adolf Hitler; another sister, Jessica, ran away to America
and became a left-wing journalist, later writing The American
Way of Death. Her case has not been helped by her subject-matter,
for the milieu of the wealthy upper classes and their deep-rooted
snobbishness and casual bigotry is one that might easily repel
a reader who misses the irony, satire and the surfacing of darker
concerns that characterise the books. A shame, for she is one
of the true originals of modern English writing. --Burhan
by Gavin Lambert
Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-17775-1
Lindsay Anderson's "About John Ford"
combined a critical biography with a memoir of his guarded friendship
with the great Western director.
Gavin Lambert, a close and lifelong friend of Anderson's since
their days at Cheltenham School in the forties, has essayed a
similar kind of tribute. The result is an elegant, intimate and
witty salute to one of the foremost figures of post-war British
cinema and theatre.
Alan Bates, who worked
with Anderson a number of times, was interviewed for the book;
and there are photos from the film of David Storey's "In
Celebration," which Lindsay Anderson directed:
"Lindsay was a great friend.
If I really needed advice, professional or otherwise, I consulted
him. He was so clear-headed. I remember him saying once, 'Remember,
no offer is an insult.' "