Must You Go On?

Must-You-GoIt's surprising that a dramatist known for his meaningful pauses inspired such a chatty memoir. Harold Pinter couldn't have asked for a more sympathetic biographer than his wife Antonia Fraser and this book, drawn from Fraser's journals, has a gentle intimacy reminiscent of a long, happy marriage.

Pinter emerges from these pages as a romantic (who knew?) devoted to his extended family. Fraser doesn't dish the dirt - even when it comes to their "scandalous" affair that broke up their respective marriages - nor does she present the couple as innocents. She does spend more time talking about the loss of beloved real estate than of discarded spouses but that is safer ground, I suppose.

I could have done with fewer pages about Harold's adventures with Vaclav Havel and other ventures into politics. Pinter's off-handed comment that Reagan and Gorbachev are "my boys" if their nuclear reduction treaty makes Fraser happy says far more about Pinter's devotion to his wife (and thus about him as a person) than a thousand rallies. But it is nice to learn that Pinter was a "house angel/street devil."

This isn't the definitive biography of Harold Pinter nor does it pretend to be. It is a warm remembrance of a man and a happy marriage.

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