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Smut by Alan Bennett

Smut (edition 2012)

by Alan Bennett

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3722829,102 (3.52)22
Authors:Alan Bennett
Info:Profile Books (2012), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:humour, 12 in 12, 2012

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Smut: two unseemly stories by Alan Bennett

Recently added byinpariswithyou, cjeskriett, mayusteapot, kps15, Amniot, private library, deckehoe



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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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 |
Although Bennett's two "unseemly" stories involve sex, his portrayal has a down to earth quality that avoids indecency or eroticism. At the same time they are generously laced with humour that is tinged with a poignant element. Bennett's writing is never blatantly obvious, but rather it weaves many emotions that beautifully reflect reality. I enjoyed The Uncommon Reader more, but as usual, Bennett has created a thought-provoking work with subtle undertones. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jun 19, 2015 |
I fell in love with Bennett's 'The History Boys' after the 50 Years of the National Theatre on the BBC showed about 5 minutes of it. After that I was hooked.

Unseemly: not proper or appropriate.

'Smut' contains two short stories about, unsurprisingly, sex. From the title you can identify that those entwined within the stories of sex confront it in a somewhat old-fashioned sense. Sex is either very, very good or quite, quite bad.
In the first, a middle-aged woman discovers enjoyment in watching youngsters have sex, intermittently whilst acting as a fake patient for student doctors. The theme of acting and putting on another face is prominent through-out (also found in 'The History Boys') and strikes to the heart of how most of us live our lives. In any number of ways we are acting as part of our daily routine; be it with make-up, with lies or with blatant hypocrisies.

The second story is bit more involved: a (unknown) gay man marries a rich orphan woman. His mother disproves, his father cares little and the whole thing is intertwined with blackmail and lies and adultery. Again, the theme of acting belongs solidly to this story, though the lies are far worse than could be found in the first unseemly story.

As to be expected, these stories are different to the play (admittedly the only play I've read) but they are still sublimely Bennett and rather quintessentially English. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
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. Though her own husband isn't all that satisfactory either. Still, this is Alan Bennett, so what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately more true 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, her mundane life becomes much more stimulating ...
I might have a bit of a theme developing here with my last book in part concerned with sexual hang-ups and behaviour. Rest assured, this is temporary as my next/latest read is a wee bit more traditionally rooted in the crime genre. It is nice to freshen things up now and again though.
I have obviously heard of the playwright Bennett and was intrigued enough to give try some of his shorter work, though apparently his memoir/autobiography/diary – Writing Home is supposed to be really interesting. It was a toss-up between Smut and Four Stories and Smut shaded it on length.
As a further aside, I was moved enough when reading this to buy a copy of the film adaptation of his award winning play The History Boys. Released in 2006, the Keane family four, youngest daughter excused – “14 and bored” were entertained last Sunday evening by the Grammar school boys and their teacher’s efforts to achieve entry into Oxford/Cambridge Universities. The late, Richard Griffiths was fantastic.
Back to Smut....
Amusing and slightly titillating, these two long short stories or novellas proved an entertaining diversion from my usual fare of crime, murder, police and thieves. Note to self - I think I ought to try and read outside my preferred genre a bit more often.
Comedy writing can be a bit hit or miss, but when done well is satisfying. Bennett does it well, but also has me meditating on how closely we really know other people and on the secrets, often small things, that we keep from each other, particularly family. For a light book, Smut gave me some food for thought.
3 from 5
I think I got my copy, second-hand at the beginning of this year or end of last from either Amazon or E-Bay.
( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
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"I gather you're my wife," said the man in the waiting room.
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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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