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Smut: Two Unseemly Stories Hardcover – 7 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; 1st edition (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846685257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846685255
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critcs' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tony's. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009. His collection of prose, Untold Stories, won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. The Uncommon Reader was published in 2007.

Product Description

Review

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 2011-04-23)

Amusingly peculiar... tender and comic... joyous anarchism... It is good, old-fashioned British humour with the lightest of subversive twists. (Arifa Akbar Independent 2011-04-22)

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 2011-04-23)

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 2011-04-14)

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 2011-04-30)

Hilarious (The Times 2011-04-30)

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 2011-05-01)

Unmitigated delight (Christina Hardyment The Times 2011-04-30)

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 2011-06-11)

Both stories are nearly structured by a master storyteller (Canberra Times, Australia 2011-06-11)

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)

Book Description

Unexpected tales from the master of short fiction

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By PB on 24 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Readers used to Bennett's style should enjoy these two, rather short, stories. As usual, Bennett explores the oddities of peoples' lives and the strangeness of language. The first story is probably the better. The second is a bit 'clunky' and you get the feeling that Bennett rushed to finish it.

As always, the author creates people you can care about. There is nothing gross or too explicit in these stories. As is often the case with Bennett, the characters are quaint rather than smutty. My only real reservation is how slim this volume is (or must be if I wasn't reading it on a Kindle.) In a full price book, we might reasonably expect at least one more story.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In his dotage there can be little doubt that Alan Bennett
is, indeed, a National Treasure! It is his incomparable
capacity to dignify the small details of lives lived quietly
behind net curtains; his dry, droll humour and perhaps above
all his innate humanity which makes his work so enjoyable.

These two stories, read by Mr Bennett, in this fine BBC Audiobook
recording, produced by Gordon House, find him as his hilarious best.
His capacity to combine the ordinary with the grotesque in these
tales stands up well to the finest he has written in a long career.
His voice has become an old friend; a Maiden-Aunt of a voice whose
pursed lips seem evermore tightly drawn into a tight disapproving bud,
the better to deliver his unseemly observations! A voice overheard on
the top deck of a bus or across the liver and sausages on a butcher's
marble slab. The hidden and quietly improper voice of Little England.

Mrs Donaldson, in 'The Greening Of Mrs Donaldson, is a marvellous
invention. A widow who, to expand her horizons, takes on a job of
role-playing pathological conditions to medical students (another kind
of Naked Civil Servant' if you will!) I had not know that such an occupation
existed until now but Mr Bennett brings the gory details to life in all
their grisly scatological splendour! That her two lodgers also deliver
more than a little spice into her lonely world should not be begrudged.
Hilarity and pathos hold hands like familiar but uncomfortable bedfellows.

'The Shielding Of Mrs Forbes' is a wonderful confection too. A story
about secrets that are not really very secret at all.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Smut is available as a 4-CD audiobook as well as in print. The two stories - read unabridged by Alan Bennett himself - occupy two CDs each. While the printed book seems a little thin, roughly 2 hours for the narrated version of each of the stories (4 hours in all) is plenty long enough.

It wouldn't do to give away too much of the plot of either story - they rely for much of their effect on the unexpected - but both stories are about ordinary people whose public and private lives don't entirely correspond, and it's the friction between the facade and the reality that creates the drama and humour. The stories are subversive and very funny. The first - the Greening of Mrs Donaldson - is about a widow whose lodgers come up with a novel way of paying their rent arrears; the second - The Shielding of Mrs Forbes - is about an extended family where nobody is exactly what they seem, and they each spend much of their time trying to live up to the roles they have created for themselves. The sex scenes certainly have the potential to be raunchy, but it would be hard to take offence. After all, sex is perfectly normal: it's only our slightly odd unwillingness to talk about it that can make it seem smutty.

Bennett cleverly manages to retain the humanity and pathos of the individuals in his stories, while creating hugely entertaining scenarios for them. He is one of the best of our contemporary writers; that he writes satire and comedy makes his work no less relevant.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By hfffoman TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you liked Alan Bennett's TV monologues ("Talking Heads") or his autobiographical essays ("Untold Stories"), you might as well get Smut straight away. It has the same incisive wit and observation and delightful turn of expression.

If you aren't familiar with his writing, it is intelligent, entertaining, and funny, but in a deadpan, wry style, not laugh-aloud. His dour Yorkshire accent is perfectly suited to the style. For that reason I would strongly recommend the audio version, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was no print version.

Be ready for some very explicit sex. If you are unsure whether it would offend you, I would suggest giving it a try. Although there are some graphic moments, it is extremely witty and - I hesitate before using the word "unique" but Alan Bennet finds a genuinely unique and delightful angle on the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Post Scriptum VINE VOICE on 22 May 2011
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While I generally agree with the reviews above of the fictions themselves (with the first story a little stronger, more nuanced and better paced than the second), I am commenting on the audio version of the book. It is a great treat to be able to hear the author himself narrate these two tales of mildy erotic mischief. With his wonderfully melancholic yet subtly playful tones and perfect timing, there are even more lines and exchanges here than on the printed page that make one laugh out loud at their precisely understated wit and insight. Lasting approximately four hours, this set of four CDs is not only an entertaining piece of fiction but also a marvellous memento of a great author's voice.
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