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Smut by Alan Bennett
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Smut (edition 2012)

by Alan Bennett

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3903127,499 (3.52)23
Member:SouthernKiwi
Title:Smut
Authors:Alan Bennett
Info:Profile Books (2012), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:humour, 12 in 12, 2012

Work details

Smut: two unseemly stories by Alan Bennett

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English (30)  Spanish (1)  English (31)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
SMUT. What a great title, don'cha think? It's a word I used to hear from my mother years ago - smut, smutty - but you don't hear much anymore. It was - and, I assume, still is - usually associated with nasty, even pornographic, books or films, but could also apply to personal behavior. Everyone needs at least a smidgen of smut in their lives - to spice things up a bit. And that's what Alan Bennett's two long-ish short stories in SMUT are about. In the first, "The Greening of Mrs Donaldson," the title character is a fifty-ish, still attractive widow, who, to help make ends meet, takes in a couple of student roomers, and also answers an ad to work at the local hospital's medical school as an SP (simulated patient) -

"No special skills were said to be required, only the ability to memorise information and present it clearly. Nothing was said in the advert about acting ability, or Mrs Donaldson would not have applied; self-confidence wasn't mentioned either, which would have been another deterrent as Mrs Donaldson had always thought of herself as shy."

In the course of the story, through the actions of her two young tenants, as well as the medical students and their physician-instructor, Mrs Donaldson 'loosens up' and loses her shyness in the most surprising, perhaps even shocking ways. I don't want to say any more about it, because I don't want to spoil it. But this is a story filled with crisp, naughty, oh-so British situations that often simply cracked me up.

The second story, "The Shielding of Mrs Forbes," is an inter-generational family drama. Well, comedy-drama, actually, because Bennett, one of the creators of the comedy troupe, Beyond the Fringe, is perhaps one of the funniest guys you'll ever read. The story deals with closeted gays, blackmail, marriage, strong women and weak and/or vain men, and ... well, you just have to read the story. Is there really SMUT in these stories? Oh, you bet there is Once again, if you enjoy British humor, and especially slightly (ahem) 'smutty' humor about people who seem so real, you will LOVE this little book. I certainly did. Very highly recommended. (four and a half stars)

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Sep 22, 2016 |
Funny book. It is two short stories, both about middle aged women in circumstances or situations that, in former times may have been regarded primly as smutty, something which this book is not. It is witty and clever, light hearted, and gently pokes fun at society's preoccupations with "how things look".

[from 'The Shielding of Mrs Forbes'] “In the years since he was born her sights had risen and Graham was not nearly the classy name she’d once thought. She wished now that she could get rid of it as she had got rid of the dark oak dining suite that belonged to the same period. But though car-boot sales exist to dispose of discarded aspirations there are no stalls dealing in our most unwanted commodities like names, relatives or one’s own appearance in the glass.” ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Very enjoyable. Two long stories, neither deep nor stupid. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Mar 18, 2016 |
Just a few days after starting this book, I heard a caller on a podcast introduce himself as someone who has the same job as one of Bennett's main characters: someone who pretends to be a patient for doctors to practice on. A few days *before* starting this book, I'd never even heard of such work; in fact, when I started "Smut," I wondered whether Bennett had made the whole idea up.

So far the writing is funny and the story is engagingly bizarre. Interested to see where things go from here.

--Just finished. It's two novellas, both brilliant. I was worried that the second would be unpleasant, one of those works where the author seems to take pleasure in telling the story of entirely unlikable people. Not the case at all. The characters *should* be unlikable; instead, they're endearing (at least I found them so). And Bennett's use of the language is reliably wonderful. "She wasn't wholly infatuated, though she liked the way he looked; but, so too did he and that unfatuated her a bit." I will never be less than infatuated with this book. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
The Greening of Mrs Donaldson - 1 star
The Shielding of Mrs Forbes - 3 stars

I started reading this book a few months back and quit about 10 pages in because the first story was so bad, but I picked it up again for a 50 Books Challenge. The second story was much better, but still not that good. ( )
  DanielleMD | Jun 20, 2015 |
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This title includes unexpected tales from the master of short fiction. "The Shielding of Mrs Forbes" - Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. And her own husband would be better if she were mourning him than living with him. But this is Alan Bennett, so no matter the importance of keeping up appearances, what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately much more honest to people's predilections. "The Greening of Mrs Donaldson" - Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers (a young, broke couple) passions that she never knew existed are aroused, and her mundane life becomes much more stimulating...
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Presents two short tales of sex, secrets, and misrepresentation, including "The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson," in which a widow supplements her income by being a test subject for medical students.

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