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Smut: Two Unseemly Stories Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Unexpected tales from the master of short fiction --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.
In the first, widowed Mrs. Donaldson is part of a group role-playing as patients in a medical school. Dr. Ballantyne (who fancies her) can thus all the better teach students how to interview, diagnose and break bad news. What causes her suddenly to become so invigorated, her acting so inventive? Seek no further than her young lodgers and their novel suggestion how to pay off rent arrears, thereby ensuring everything is "bang up to date".
In the second, gay but now married banker Graham is blackmailed by one with whom he has an arrangement. Great is his terror that his blinkered, tightlipped mother should ever find out.
Gems abound - people's foibles pinpointed, their vocabulary hilariously nailed. Relish Dr. Ballantyne's "death and grief don't always go together" and "these days gender is in flux". Savour what long suffering Mr. Forbes Snr. whispers in his wife's ear as they dance at Graham's wedding reception.
Here is smut with a charm that can cause no offence, delivered by one who knows how to tease and beguile.
Sex is a pivotal theme in all of these... Dirty Old Man!
Totally entertaining, they will make you feel many emotions, but you surely will smile.