Monday, February 4, 2008

Passing it on

This past November and December I had the distinct pleasure and honor of performing in Alan Bennett's The History Boys at the Ahmanson Theatre in LA. Immediately after I took a trip to London (my thoughts about the city worth their own post). On Christmas Eve, after I hiked around Parliament Hill in the Northwest part of London, I walked down into the town of Hamstead and bought Bennett's most recent memoir Untold Stories. Paul Miller, the director of HB, had played excerpts of Bennett reading his diary entries from the book. It had subsequently been recommended to me by friends of the author, no less.

I fancy myself a reader, well-read even. I've enjoyed a lot of books, but rarely have I found a connection in a singular author. Anyone who knows me knows how much I like Carl Sagan and his writings and ideas. This is chiefly because, I think, he writes like an uncle - warmly, intelligently, and with that spark of mischief and imagination that keeps you wanting more.

But Bennett...

In reading his book, I've met someone who is flawed the same way I am flawed. And yet rises above it through his art. Intelligent, witty, and yet awkard and unsure - the memoir is a wonderful self-protrait of someone saying, "I don't know quite what I did...but here it is."

A line from the History Boys finds itself in many places throughout this book, having its genesis, I believe, in a speech about painting oddly enough. It has never rang more true to me.

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours."

1 comment:

Kim said...

I've been meaning to comment about how much I love that quote, and I'm finally getting around to it. I love that quote.