No, this isn’t another post on The Road. (I’ve written interminable entries about one Nick Cave-scored film, I don’t need to add another one at this time.) It’s about the book I’ve just finished reading: Must You Go?, a memoir by Antonia Fraser about her life with Harold Pinter. I’m usually not much into memoirs and biographies – I’m very much a fiction reader – but this one was a present from a friend, and a fitting one; I’d directed that friend in a student production of Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter 13 years ago.
Fraser’s book is eminently readable, even if during the middle third or so it feels like it consists primarily of encounters with famous people and praises of Pinter’s writing – though obviously one wouldn’t go to a widow’s memoir for an in-depth appraisal of an author’s literary output. Must You Go? is also a sad book, as its final 100 pages lead up to the death that answers its titular question in the depressingly affirmative. But throughout the book there are passages that made me smile, grin and every now and then even laugh out loud. And there’s something so wonderfully British about the diary entry that describes what happened after Antonia Fraser told her husband at the time, Hugh Fraser, about her affair with Harold Pinter:
In the end I summoned Harold round. He drank whisky, Hugh drank brandy. I sat. In a surreal scene, Hugh and Harold discussed cricket at length, then the West Indies, then Proust. I started to go to sleep on the sofa. Harold politely went home. (p. 23)