Saturday, March 1, 2008

Losing Your Stuff

Two short stories in one volume -- The Clothes They Stood Up In and The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett -- are both about possessions and the lack of them. The first is a rather spare novella about a staid London couple that loses everything they own in a bizarre burglary. In the second, Bennett tells the story of a Miss Shepherd, who spent several years living in a van in his driveway. They are both quick reads and compelling. I especially enjoyed The Lady in the Van; the author is rather reluctantly involved with the crazy Miss Shepherd and is simultaneously compassionate and annoyed. Bennett also wrote The Madness of King George, which I haven't seen but am interested in now. Yay!


Boomer said...

Those sound like good stories. Where did you run accross this book?

Sassmaster said...

I picked it up at a used bookstore.

Boomer said...

I've had pretty good luck with that method myself.

phlegmfatale said...

They sound like good stories. Actually, I'm in a major state of divestiture, and giving half of my crap to charity/friends or selling on ebay.
The author of Trainspotting talked once about before his career got rolling and he was living in a dive-of-a-house in London with a lot of other wastrels. He didn't have much stuff at all, just the few most precious momentos he'd taken with him through life. Anyway, there was a fire and he literally lost everything but the clothes he was wearing. He said in a big way and despite the stress and heartbreak of it, that he was very much liberated by the experience, as he was starting afresh with a completely blank canvas.

I can't go that whole-hog, but I'll settle for half-measures at this point.