Talking Heads

Bennett, Alan

  13 Reviews

A collection of 12 of Alan Bennett's monologues originally filmed by BBC Television. At once darkly comic, tragically poignant and wonderfully uplifting, "Talking Heads" is widely regarded as a modern classic. [Taken from book cover.]

Comments from Groups

We loved all the stories. Alan Bennett is a great observer of life, as his stories portray so well. Waika 003

All members appreciated the writing and how it portrayed the Englishness of the characters throughout. The humour contrasted with the often sinister subject matter. Hamil 026

All really enjoyed it. Bennett has such a wonderful grasp of people's thoughts and speech. Auckland 020

Wide range of reactions to this one. Rather grim lives studied, but so clever and interesting to read the play format for some. Others irritated by some. All in all a good book group book as lots of discussion. Auckland 063

This book was read with enthusiasm by the group and discussed with vigour. Enjoyed by all. Picton 002



Discussion about this book sparked one of our liveliest sessions, an indication of all members' engagement with, and enjoyment of it. While humour lightens many of the monologues, and tempers their poignancy, others, particularly those dealing with - by implication - criminal abuse and self-deception, are much grimmer. At their centre is a darkness, a chilling evocation of the depravity of which humankind is capable.
We were split down the middle on this one. Half loved it thinking it hilarious, and watched some monologues on YouTube. The other half thought the stories sad/tragic and didn't think it worked well as a book.
WANG 011
Bennett is a skilful writer and the monologues are entertaining, but what put some of us off is that he does not like his characters; he mocks them, a bit mildly perhaps, but unmistakably. His misanthropic and scatalogical tendencies were mildly offensive to some of us. Nevertheless our discussion was enthusiastic, with a recognition of the skill and humour of the monologues and the pathos of life in general.
Most members enjoyed this book despite the dark endings.
AUCK 055
"This is life" - as one of Bennett's characters says. Each of these monologues showed us in their own way how life is for some of us. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, but all wonderfully written.
TAUP 005
Everyone in the group enjoyed this book. Although satire, it made us laugh without feeling too unkind, especially as we often saw ourselves in it! It was very cleverly written. Some of us also felt a few "happy endings" wouldn't have gone amiss. We all felt that each story should be read with an interval between each to avoid confusion, as the style was rather similar in some. Highly recommended!
MAST 011
The book was enjoyed but we found the print small. Some had seen it as plays and found them more appealing than the book.
Not many of us like short stories, but we had a terrific discussion all the same!
CHCH 395
Very enjoyable choice. Enhanced by watching the monologues on You Tube. Good discussion ensued. Recommended.
ASHH 001
Mixed responses. Some found the themes depressing, others appreciated the adroitness of the writing and characterisation.
Group enjoyed the book, but thought the stories were very raw.
PICT 001
Most very pleased to read this book. Interesting discussion re Alan Bennett's other work.
CHCH 376
This turned out to be a rather divisive book for the group - a few were really underwhelmed, but some of us (including the reviewer, hence the 5 stars) loved it. Maybe it comes down to knowing and loving Alan Bennett! If one has watched interviews with him or otherwise observed his reserved but detailed analysis of British life, one cannot but marvel at his control and wit, where the minutiae of a curtain pattern can intrude on a death scene. Put your upper-middle class English specs on and enjoy the subtle humour herein!