Smut: Two Unseemly Stories

Alan Bennett

Smut: Two Unseemly Stories

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 … 3.0 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Smut: Two Unseemly Stories

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre Short Stories
Format Hardback
Pages 160
RRP £12.00
Date of Publication April 2011
ISBN 978-1846685255
Publisher Profile
 

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 …

Reviews

The Guardian

Sarah Churchwell

If Smut is undeniably slight — it's not clear that these two stories, however amusing, really warrant stand-alone publication — it also offers plenty of Bennett's trademark pleasures. It would be too much to say that he's challenging himself, but the book is by no means lazily written and it's consistently amusing, full of witty turns of phrase

23/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

Adam Lively

In the end, of course, it’s all about class, as most English writing about sex is. And further down, perhaps unwittingly, it is about a certain kind of emptiness. Bennett’s talent for the honed quip is securely in place (“For Graham's mother there was little to choose between Jews and Catholics. The Jews had holidays that turned up out of the blue and the Catholics had children in much the same way”), but there is also a bleakness.

01/05/2011

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The Independent

Arifa Akbar

The two subtitled "unseemly stories" that comprise this light, readable book turn out not to be that unseemly at all. The characters are endearingly conventional who are merely owning up to their carnality. It is good, old-fashioned British humour with the lightest of subversive twists.

22/04/2011

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The Evening Standard

David Sexton

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.

14/04/2011

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The Financial Times

Simon Schama

The danger is that nice will smother naughty. This doesn’t happen in the stronger, sharper, gayer, second story “The Shielding of Mrs Forbes”, which is racy in both senses (its pace is speedy, the prose bounding) and is as wicked as anything that Joe Orton might have dreamed up, which is saying something. But “The Greening of Mrs Donaldson” suffers from a heavy dose of the adorables and gives off a damp laboriousness, as if the Marquis de Sade had fetched up in Huddersfield and written A Hundred and Twenty Nights of Bingo.

22/04/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Charles Moore

… these stories are not Bennett at his best. I think there is a reason for this which goes beyond the right of every writer to be off-form sometimes. It is the deadly effect on literary culture of sexual explicitness.

24/04/2011

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