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The Laying On of Hands: Stories

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  550 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Alan Bennett's extraordinary ear for dialogue and sharpness of perception have made him a master storyteller. In "Father! Father! Burning Bright" he writes with tragicomic insight about a son's vigil at his father's deathbed where their lifelong battle continues to the end. "The Laying on of Hands," a brilliantly funny satire, describes a society memorial service for a rat ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 2nd 2003 by Picador (first published September 3rd 2001)
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Jan 06, 2013 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
A very short story that was originally published in the London Review of Books, and is typically Bennett.

It is set in the moments before, after, and mainly during, the memorial service for Clive, a young man who died in Peru a few months earlier. The fashionable London church is filled with a group of diverse but mostly famous or important friends, most of whom didn't realise Clive was also a friend of the others.

Bennett affectionately and humourously highlights the foibles and hypocrisy of mode
May 31, 2015 Suni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, ebook, 2000s, ed-adelphi
Il funerale ― anzi, la commemorazione ― di un giovane massaggiatore/gigolò è occasione di grande imbarazzo per i suoi clienti. L'affetto (e la riconoscenza) per il defunto li ha spinti a presenziare, convinti che sarebbe stata una cerimonia per pochi intimi, e invece si ritrovano a comporre una folla di volti noti e celebrità. Perfino il prete che officia la funzione conosceva bene il caro estinto.
Da qui prende avvio questo breve romanzo molto divertente, molto caustico, molto british.
4 stelline
Feb 23, 2012 Jacob rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction, 2012
February 2012

A man stands vigil at his dying father's hospital bed, for all the good that does him (or his father). A woman finds a new chiropodist. In the title story, the memorial service of a popular masseuse who provided various other services draws together a rather famous list of mourners--most of whom are very keen (and concerned) to find out how he died.

All charming, comical, and a bit sad...and I think "Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet" might be the first story I've read about podiatry, so t
Jan 18, 2008 minnie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like Alan Bennett
Shelves: short-stories
If you like Alan Bennett you'll like these three stories, the second one Miss Fozzard finds her feet being the lightest.
'A woman? I said, 'In chiropody? Isn't that unusual?' 'No,'he said,'not nowadays.The barriers are coming down in chiropody as well as everything else.

She said, 'Call me Mallory.' I said,'Mallory? What sort of name is that? I wouldn't be able to put a sex to it.' She says,'Well I'm Australian.' Strong girl, very capable.And a qualified physiotherapist with a diploma in caring.It
Margherita Dolcevita
Nov 14, 2010 Margherita Dolcevita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookmoochati
I funerali, non si sa bene per quale motivo, hanno sempre un risvolto comico che balza agli occhi degli spettatori non coinvolti. Quando poi non sono proprio funerali ma solo commemorazioni, l'ingombrante presenza della bara viene a mancare e ci si può anche rilassare di più.
100 paginette divertenti, acute, brillanti, la miseria umana viene messa in scena senza alcun pudore e senza alcuna remora; il libro è una come grossa fotografia in cui Bennett si concentra avidamente sui dettagli più insig
Jun 11, 2013 Emanuela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Molto divertente.
L'autore è abilissimo nello svelare piano piano fatti e personaggi descrivendoli con humor inglese.
E' capace, con stile psicologicamente acuto, di far emergere le ipocrisie dei VIP invitati alla cerimonia; li tira dentro tutti, complice il protagonista assente perché deceduto, il quale scatenerà tra gli astanti, prete compreso, sentimenti diversi che si esprimeranno più o meno liberamente, in una specie di confessione collettiva.
Alexander Rolfe
Jan 27, 2008 Alexander Rolfe rated it did not like it
I actually threw this brand new hardback in the trash when I finished it. Felt good to take even a single copy of this wretched book out of circulation.
The thing about reading Alan Bennett is that, once you've heard him speak, or recite his stories, anything you read thereafter you hear in his voice. It's most peculiar and quite wonderful to hear his wry Yorkshire tones reading this to me, whilst reading from the pages.
This is a sharp, wryly amusing tale of a young man's memorial service - not promising material I'd have thought, but in Bennett's hands it's a wonder. TV stars, judges, senior civil servants and junior ministers all attend, expec
Dec 10, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clive muore in Perù. A Londra la commemorazione. Sono molti a partecipare. Lo conoscevano molto bene, e così lo conosceva anche padre Jolliffe. Sì, allo stesso modo.
Clive già da piccolo aveva le mani che emanavano un prodigioso calore. Se ne vergognava. Poi, scoprì che il suo non era un difetto, ma un dono. Un dono che valeva oro.
Si spendono parole e applausi per il defunto Clive. Di cosa è morto? Meglio non saperlo, perché solo il dubbio che la sua morte abbia un nome fa cadere nell'angoscia pi
Jan 26, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
I’ve been a fan of Alan Bennett for many years. He’s one of those writers who could describe paint dry and keep my interest. He’s not written a huge amount of prose so I tend to ration myself as I did with Brautigan although at least with Bennett there’s still the possibility of a little more before he dies. I was actually a little disappointed with this group of three because two have been filmed—‘Miss Fozzard Finds her Feet’ as part of the second season of Talking Heads and ‘Father! Father! Bu ...more
Ashley Judge
This book can be managed in a couple of hours concentrated seating.
The writing style is very good. It is, after all, Alan Bennett. But it is not "easy" reading because it is good writing and it is very "British". The story centers on the funeral of Clive Dunlop, a masseur who turns out has been extremely sexually active with many famous people, including, secretly of course, the Anglican priest who was officiating the service. Most of the attendees had some connection to Clive (wink wink) and w
Nov 11, 2010 Mara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un funerale, un prete, e i segreti dei personaggi dello spettacolo : un racconto brillante, divertente, ma al tempo stesso inquietante, in cui ci si trova sommersi da pettegolezzi, scheletri nell'armadio dei partecipanti al triste evento. Una critica dei riti e miti della societa’ . Si legge di un fiato.
Clarification - 4.5 stars.

Basically I loved it, but the last story didn't connect with me so well.

The Laying On of Hands - This was amusing. The pendulum of emotions. And the fractured perception of everyone we meet; no one sees us fully, just bits and pieces. The ending cracked me up. Talk about irony at its finest!

Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet - This was good too. And the reader knows what's going on much sooner than the lady in question. More like a character study. Lovely.

Father! Father! Burni
Jul 21, 2011 Jools rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 27, 2015 Eustachio rated it it was ok
Tre racconti brevi. I primi due comici, l'ultimo non troppo. Il funerale di un massaggiatore famoso morto per cause misteriose, una donna e il suo nuovo podologo, un insegnante accanto al letto di morte del padre. Senza girarci troppo intorno, mi ha annoiato, ho riso solo di sfuggita, e ho perso spesso il filo, specialmente con i primi due racconti. Se non l'avessi letto perché curioso di leggere qualcos'altro di Alan Bennett, non avrei mai detto che si tratta dello stesso autore de La sovrana l ...more
Oct 30, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it
Probably amongst the minority here, but didn't enjoy this book at all. Good writing but the stories were too unimportant, too trivial and I found the whole read lacked any meaning. Not often I leave a book having felt I am no better off for reading it but for this one I did. First one star I have given a book. Sorry!!
Chris Walker
Nov 22, 2015 Chris Walker rated it really liked it
I heard the BBC production of this book which features Alan Bennett reading his own work. This edition is just one story about the memorial service following the death of Clive, the popular masseur, in darkest Peru. This is a comic delight from start to finish. Enjoy.
Mar 31, 2015 Seonaid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily the most satirical Bennet I've read so far, this short story takes place over the course of one funeral. Observed from several perspectives, it pokes fun at religion, sexual politics, celebrity and the show of grief. Funny read.
Jul 13, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clive's memorial service raises all sorts of questions, even in the mind of the vicar taking the service. Ironic, sad and funny in the Alan Bennett style.
Jon Lewis
Sublime short.

Just a sublime short story. Beautifully written. My first Alan Bennett book. I shall be reading many more in the future.
Feb 02, 2013 Inga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nach Die souveräne Leserin und Cosi fan tutte ist Handauflegen nun die dritte Geschichte, die ich von Alan Bennett gelesen habe. Vielleicht ist Handauflegen nicht gar so bissig und sprachlich treffsicher (sofern man bei Übersetzungen überhaupt so harsch urteilen sollte) wie die beiden anderen, die mich sehr begeisterten. Dennoch ist es eine sehr hübsche, englische Geschichte über eine Gedenkfeier für einen Toten, den alle Besucher erst in der Kirche als den gemeinsamen (sexuellen) Nenner der bri ...more
Ben Baker
Oct 27, 2014 Ben Baker rated it really liked it
Simple tales of longing and being trapped by fear of public opinion, regular key themes in Bennett's work and rarely handled with more grace and humour than here.
Elisa Fardelli
Jan 25, 2015 Elisa Fardelli rated it really liked it
sinply cannot stop reading it...even if the story is quite simple, it keeps you wondering what will happen next
Apr 19, 2016 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
An interesting short piece with a beautifully ambiguous ending. Typical Bennett and rather delicious.
May 31, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Bennett's voice is precise, his dialog clear in these short stories. I felt like a character amidst the tale.
David Highton
a clever format but I did not enjoy it as much as some of his other work
May 19, 2016 Kait rated it really liked it
Delightful, charming, cheeky.
Massimiliano Laviola
Mar 17, 2013 Massimiliano Laviola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europea
Un racconto tragicomico pieno di umorismo tipicamente inglese. Parla del funerale, o meglio della cerimonia funebre, di un massaggiatore che ha avuto tra le mani, in tutti i sensi, attrici, scrittori, registi. Insomma tutta la crème di Londra. Scorre velocemente ed è pieno di scene esilaranti (su tutte l'attrice che confonde il quadro di una fermata della via crucis per un divieto di fumo). Nonostante la sintesi e la rapidità del racconto, i personaggi sono caratterizzati alla perfezione.
Mar 13, 2016 Luca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Voto: 6,5
Sveva Caputo
May 13, 2012 Sveva Caputo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
E' il primo libro che ho letto di Alan Bennett e sono certa che sarà anche l'ultimo.
Sarà che capisco poco l'umorismo inglese o che lo considero scialbo e privo di verve ma ho trovato questo testo davvero bruttino e banale.
Gli aneddoti raccontati li trovo insipidi e la scrittura mi ha parecchio annoiata.
Niente, tra me e Bennett non è scoccata la scintilla.
Mi annoia persino scriverne la recensione quindi mi fermo qui:P
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alan Bennett is an English author and Tony Award-winning playwright. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. Many television, stage and radio plays followed, along with screenplays, short stories, novellas, a large body of non-fictional prose and broadcasting, and many appearances as
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