Sunday 9 April 2017

With Slides

Strangers is not a funny book. There is a misjudged caretaker, Arthur, who seems to have stepped out of a 1950s comedy, but little else. There is, though, an exchange between Sturgis and his old girlfriend about loneliness. Sarah is affronted at being asked whether she's lonely - 'Are you lonely, indeed' - and Sturgis says, 'I sometimes wish that someone would ask me the same question. It would give me a chance to...' And of course Sarah knows him too well, and Brookner knows herself too well: 'That's why they don't ask you,' Sarah rejoins. 'It would set you off for hours.' (Ch. 14)

One is reminded of this, from Julian Barnes:
When she won, she went up to the dais, received the cheque, turned to the audience with immaculate poise, and began: 'Usually, when I stand up, I go on for about 50 minutes' – then a pause of perfect length, before she added – 'with slides.'

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