Tuesday 1 September 2020

Brookner on the Radio

My Dream Dinner Party, in which a celebrity's dream guests' recorded output is spliced together, is a concept that's been knocking about BBC Radio 4 for a few years. It just about works, but has obvious limitations. I was surprised when British actress Alison Steadman 'invited' Brookner to join Charles Aznavour, James Stewart, Beryl Reid and John Lennon. The result is arch and artificial, but also a delight, insofar as it makes available passages from Brookner's media interviews from her 1980s heyday. We hear her discoursing on writing as therapy, her parents, and her style. Several points. Steadman was apparently introduced to Brookner's work after a friend gave her Strangers (2009) in the 80s. Would Brookner really have accepted a glass of wine with such enthusiasm? And mightn't she have left the party early, certainly before Lennon got out his guitar? Brookner once called the guitar a specious instrument.


  1. I can't imagine Anita Brookner in such company! I feel through reading her books that I have some sense of what she was like in real life, and the companions mentioned would not have been cto her liking. I think she might have turned up out of mild interest then made a graceful exit as soon as it was polite to do so!

    1. Many thanks for your comment. By all accounts she was indeed a reluctant attendee at parties. 'But you've been here only five minutes,' someone once told her. 'And I am glad I spent them with you,' she replied, and made for the exit.


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