REVIEW: Smut (Alan Bennett)

I’m a big Alan Bennett fan, mostly due to The History Boys which I worship. Various bloggers were talking about this book last year, mostly positively, and I’ve had it on my shelf for a while. It’s handily slim, and I read it practically overnight, finishing it off in the summer sun in the garden.

It’s entertaining, and speeds along quite tidily. The characters are Bennett’s standard quirky, slightly rigid fare, but it does have more than it’s share of humour than I’m used to from Bennett. All in all, though, it’s some of the most ‘English’ sex I’ve ever read; the landlady fussing about making tea in the midst of her fledgling voyeurism. (Mind you–I’m currently renting from a live-in landlord: perhaps this is a viable payment plan? Worth considering…)

Mind you–bearing in mind that this is a book entitled ‘Smut’ and the two stories only linked by their preoccupation with sex, it’s the second story that was more engrossing and possessing any emotional heft; it was also the story that was the least concerned with sex. I enjoyed the book, and I have no particular criticisms other than the whole concept seems a bit pointless, and the whole experience a bit slight and quickly done with. Not worthy of the furore that some reviews kicked up over the subject matter, though. If anyone can get their knickers in a twist over the amount of sex in Smut, perhaps I should send them some other books to open their eyes. Dennis Cooper perhaps?

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