Friday 19 February 2021

Incidents in the Rue Laugier reread: greatest hits

Inheritance, second-hand bookshops, a flat above the shop, dreams of flight, the longing for Paris, the contrast between London and Paris, the sense of living a provisional life, Eastbourne, minor Dickensian characters with vaguely unlikely names, solicitors, habitual visitors to the family home, an atmosphere of baffled innocence...

Chapter 3 introduces us to Edward and to an astonishing number of Brooknerian favourites - surely typical of the very prolific artist Brookner was. I recently watched what will surely be, for various unseemly reasons, Woody Allen's last film, A Rainy Day in New York. It's practically unwatchable: tedious, unconvincing, questionable, anachronistic. But it is also fascinating, in its parade of situations, tropes and motifs familiar to any viewer who has stayed loyal to a yearly output that stopped being wonderful in about 1992. Not that I'd say any of that about Brookner's Incidents in the Rue Laugier. But perhaps by the time she wrote it, more than half her way through her strange second career, she was beginning to indulge herself, beginning to see the enterprise in ritualistic terms, or as a service to the fans.

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