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Smut by Alan Bennett
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Smut (edition 2012)

by Alan Bennett

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3372432,652 (3.5)18
Member:SouthernKiwi
Title:Smut
Authors:Alan Bennett
Info:Profile Books (2012), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Read in 2012, Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:humour, 12 in 12

Work details

Smut: two unseemly stories by Alan Bennett

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English (23)  Spanish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Synopsis/blurb.....
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 |
Synopsis/blurb.....
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 | Aug 7, 2013 |
Two wry yet poignant novellas, one of which was published in the LRB, one brand new. Weird to see Alan Bennett characters using the internet and mobile phones, when AB himself famously has no computer - he uses a manual typewriter bought from a Bradford charity shop...

Enjoyed both, though they are more of the same sort of thing: an older lady discovers an unlikely new lease of life from a sexual 'arrangement' with her tenants to pay the rent, while another older lady is kept from knowing the truth about her gay son and her husband's affair with his daughter-in-law. The latter story is a bit more exciting, because there's a villain to defeat, one who wants to reveal all and tear the family apart.

If you're new to AB's fiction - which he himself started late in life, in the 1990s - I'd start with The Uncommon Reader, where these themes are applied to HM The Queen discovering a late love of reading. But these latest two are still vastly enjoyable. ( )
  Dickon.Edwards | Jun 30, 2013 |
Three stars, but I "appreciated" it more than "liked" it. I found the first story to be implausible - would any tenants actually suggest what they suggested to Mrs. Donaldson "in lieu of" paying rent? - but well-written and at least an exercise in stretching one's imagination muscles. The second story seemed more suited to a play than to prose; there was quite a tangle of relationships among the characters. Bennett also uses commas so sparingly that reading his sentences is sometimes jarring. Overall, more intellectual than emotional; very well done, but not a favorite. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
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.” ( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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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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