Smut: Two Unseemly StoriesHardback
- Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 192 pages
- Dimensions: 122mm x 170mm x 23mm | 259g
- Publication date: 4 July 2011
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1846685257
- ISBN 13: 9781846685255
- Sales rank: 18,126
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 ...
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Alan Bennett is one of the UK's most celebrated figures. He is the author of Untold Stories, and numerous works of fiction including The Uncommon Reader. His play The History Boys was the National Theatre's most successful production ever.
By Marianne Vincent 11 Jun 2012
"Smut: two unseemly stories" is, as the title suggests, an omnibus of two short stories by English author and actor, Alan Bennett. The first story is The Greening of Mrs Donaldson. Mrs Donaldson, recently widowed, finds herself a little short on cash and decides to take a student couple as lodgers. When they find themselves unable to pay the rent, they come to a novel arrangement with their landlady. Mrs Donaldson's other source of income is working as a Simulated Patient in medical student training; she becomes so talented at this that the consequences are almost grave. Bennett provides the reader with plenty of laugh out loud moments; the dialogue is oftimes dryly witty and occasionally hilarious. Full of understated British humour.
The second story is The Shielding of Mrs Forbes. When Graham Forbes decides to marry Betty Greene, Muriel Forbes's objections are manifold: name, age, looks, religion and something else she hasn't mentioned. Edwards Forbes has no such objections, wondering only if his fastidious son has "done it" with Betty yet. As more of their private lives is revealed (and I found that somewhat reminiscent of Maupin's Tales of the City), we learn that everyone is intent on shielding Mrs Forbes to safeguard her innocence. According to Alan Bennett, there is a lot more promiscuity in staid British households than you or I were ever aware. Very entertaining.
These two stories are at least as funny as his earlier work, The Uncommon Reader, if in a completely different vein. I really enjoyed them.
Beautiful and filthy -- Simon Hattenstone Guardian Smut offers plenty of Bennett's trademark pleasures... consistently amusing and full of witty turns of phrase -- Sarah Churchwell Guardian Amusingly peculiar... tender and comic... joyous anarchism... It is good, old-fashioned British humour with the lightest of subversive twists. -- Arifa Akbar Independent Artfully entertaining... The stories have a dark, knowing shrewdness about erotic mischief, young and old... As always the writing is tonally perfect, laced with deadpan as well as bedpan comedy. -- Simon Schama FT All Bennett's work seems to me a dreamy evocation of an imaginary world in which he'd like to dwell, full of jokes and queerness. These days, he seems to be getting steadily smuttier, ever more disinhibited. But more strength to his elbow, I say. -- David Sexton Evening Standard Marinated in subtleties. He's never as simple as he likes to appear ... That peculiarly British maladroitness - the perennial blush, wince and averted eye - and how adroitly it is grappled with, can make for great storytelling -- John Sutherland The Times Hilarious The Times In these two stories he applies his elegant literary gifts to his territory with the unabashed glee of one watching Benny Hill getting it on with Anita Brookner ... Bennett's talent for the honed quip is securely in place -- Adam Lively Sunday Times Unmitigated delight -- Christina Hardyment The Times Alan Bennett continues to surprise and delight -- John Banville Sunday Telegraph You can always rely on Alan Bennett to capture the intricate nuances of English Life and his latest offering is no exception Good Housekeeping Smut, the perfect title for this elegant little volume, is exactly what the stories are about. On a wider scale, however, they expose the hidden foibles of human nature in a way that is witty and wise but always acutely observed The Age, Australia Both stories are nearly structured by a master storyteller Canberra Times, Australia Smut is vintage Bennett, especially the voice, so unremittingly lugubrious that, by comparison, his legendary Eeyore impersonation sounds blithe -- Sue Arnold Guardian Unmistakably Bennett ... very funny -- A N Wilson Reader's Digest Touching, human and very, very funny Sunday Times Small but perfectly formed ... will have you chortling dirtily The Lady Hugely entertaining ... an absolute joy Radio Times Exploding with peepholes and post-coital custard creams -- Camilla Long Sunday Times Joe Orton under the influence of Sheridan, with a faint hint of Hylda Baker Daily Telegraph Radio Review He writes about completely ordinary people, middle- and working-class, from drab places. He knows them. He grew up in Leeds; his father was a butcher. Again true to his native literature, he is almost always interested in morals, and in the difficulty of being good. Finally, like so many of his countrymen, he is a master satirist ... Bennett is casting a vote for women and, most touchingly, for people who are no longer young -- Joan Acocella New Yorker Bennett delivers ... with great finesse -- Joan Acocella New Yorker