Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett
|Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett|
|Genre: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Two long tales from the charming pen of Mr Bennett, with witty sex and farce-worthy comic lines.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: May 2011|
Mrs Donaldson, a widow in her fifties, spends an inordinate time in hospital, but she's not dying any quicker than the rest of us - in fact, something's keeping her young. Could it be the carnal goings-on of the couple of student lodgers she's using as an income, or is it that she's a patient simulator for young medical wannabes to give lots of attention to? Or is it that she's the lead character in an Alan Bennett story?
I mention the last possibility because it frankly seems the most likely. Like Mr Bennett himself, his characters seem to thrive on a fruity embellishment of the unexpectedly saucy - the bedroom liaison you don't expect, the promiscuity behind the middle-class net curtains you'd prefer not to imagine, the unheralded interruption of mundane life by something vaguely raunchy. This book isn't called SMUT by chance, you know.
I don't say any of that in a derogatory fashion - not where this volume is concerned. I still have issues with some of his output - take his name off the blue-rinse-friendly erudite homosexuality of The History Boys and the play would have done nothing, business-wise. But in short novel form he's irresistible - playing about with his National Treasure status with The Uncommon Reader, and with Mrs Donaldson producing both someone and something heart-warming, engaging and lovable.
The other, slightly shorter tale here is equally fun, and actually has more of the razor-sharp, cutting observational one-liners one might expect. It ends in a complete snake's nest of shenanigans regarding a married homosexual, his bride, his occasional lover, and his parents. While this has the greater laughs both stories are definitely on the witty side, and while there is the occasional twinge of one getting what one might have expected, the company of Mr Bennett is one of charm and intelligence and his tales always belie their whimsy with something more substantial.
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