Book Review: Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett

Title: Smut: Stories
Author: Alan Bennett
Publisher: Picador USA
ISBN: 978-1250003164
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 152
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I must admit that while I had known of Alan Bennett (and owned a copy of, “The Uncommon Reader); I hadn’t read anything by him prior to reading, “Smut”, a collection of two short stories. The stories are definitely a tease, but not smutty at all, as the title claims them to be, at least not in this time and age.

Smut consists of two stories, “The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson” and, “The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes”. Both are centered on one theme: Being smutty and being candid, or the lack of it sometimes. Smut, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes tries too hard to scandalize but it cannot, not the modern reader, who I would assume has read about these themes earlier.

The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson centers on a 55-year old widow, trying to make a living of being a “part-time demonstrator” for the medical school – in essence, playing the part of a person with an illness, so the students can correctly diagnose. At the same time she is taken in by a couple from the medical school, who are her lodgers and watches them have sex in exchange of rent. Initially I did take some time to get used to the twist the story took, however it wasn’t that embarrassing. The story however does end on a very surprising note and makes the reader think, just that little bit.

The second story, “The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes” is about an over-possessive mother, her recently married son and her henpecked husband. The story unfolds when a well-kept secret of the son, Graham is about to be exposed. Again, being gay in the story is hardly smutty. It is the way of life. Having said that, it is still Bennett’s writing that takes you by the horns and makes you read what he has written.

Alan Bennett has the verve in his writing. The candour and the beauty of words hit straight through without any intensity or depth. The simplicity of his words, take the reader to the edge and then he reveals the twist in the tale quite nonchalantly. Bennett’s writing has to be experienced. The writing is sharp and makes no bones about the fact that the British like to have sex and indulge. The decadence is at the highest level and does not beat around the bush as well. I will read more by him for sure.

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One thought on “Book Review: Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett

  1. Neel

    A regular follower of your blog, read almost all of ’em, but missed that very quiz unfortunately, loved the title “some of the whole” anyways.
    Apart from that, I like the writing style and the books you select. I must say that you have two or three writing styles in which you portray books in very unique ways.
    The best part is reading the description of the book’s SOP or niche may be.

    P.S-Looking forward for a book that itself, is written by you.

    Reply

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