There but for the
Ali Smith, twice shortlisted for both the Man Booker and the Orange Prizes, is back with the sparkling There but for the...
'There once was a man who, one night between the main course and the sweet at a dinner party, went upstairs and locked himself in one of the bedrooms of the house of the people who were giving the dinner party . . .'
As time passes by and the consequenc...more
i did this book a great disservice.
at first, i plowed through it like a maniac, loving every minute of it. then, i put it down for about two days and totally lost my momentum, and when i returned, the shine was off the apple.
completely my fault.
it has been nearly a week since i have written a book review, and this feels like a less-than-triumphant return, but it is fitting - i need to be punished for my weekend hedonism an ...more
There is no doubt in my mind that Ali Smith is a fine writer, a reader’s writer, maybe even a writer’s writer, although I suspect there are writers out there who think she makes it all look as easy as an unmade bed. There you go, people differ hugely in what they rate as interesting or significant, but whatever kind of writer Smith is, she’s definitely my kind, and for the long term. There will be, I hope, many more of her books to enjoy since she is one of the rare woma ...more
I thought this book would be harder. I thought I would have trouble. I thought I wouldn't be reading Women and M ...more
The fact is, imagine a man sitting on an exercise bike in a spare room. He’s a pretty ordinary man except that across his eyes and also across his mouth it looks like he’s wearing letterbox flaps. Look closer and his eyes and mouth are both separately covered by little grey rectangles. They’re like the censorship strips t ...more
Will you remember me in 6 months time?
Will you remember me in a years time?
Will you remember me in 2 years time?
Will you remember me in 3 years time?
See, you've forgotten me already.
I used to work at a video store in college. It was a small mom and pop shop, and it was a great place to work. Since it was such a small operation, there were only a handful of other employees and I knew everyone pretty well. So you can ...more
The title refers to the first word in a significant phrase deployed in each section of the novel. For example, in the first part ‘There I was’ is used when th ...more
is no there there, Gertrude Stein famously wrote in 1937, a sentence that loops back on itself in order to question its own grammar. Maybe what she meant was that the first there has no antecedent. But the sentence also pushes out, questions the world, questions the idea of a place in time, a time in place, that exists only because it is not here, relatively speaking.
This novel has a similar trajectory. Broken down into four sections titled There, But, For, and The, it tells an abstract sto ...more
There, but for the grace of God, go I.said John Bradford. A sentence merely nine words long, yet easily conveying a quality hard to come by. The ability to understand another’s misfortune when one could ignore it and keep going their own merry way. The ability to reach out to another via an empathetic bridge, instead of only offering sympathy.The humility and acceptance that not every shoe is meant to fit a special Cinderella, being in another’s shoes is a common fate.
There but for the, a novel ...more
But I don't know why Miles Garth left the dinner party and went upstairs and locked himself in the guest room. And I don't know why ...more
And if you have read all of Ali Smith, as I have, I think you will find that this book is merely okay, even tedious near the end, and that maybe instead it could've been another brilliant short story. Because what feels like excessive padding and way too much language-play (especially with ...more
It is incredibly difficult to write about Ali Smith's books. I mean where do you start? Plots are not what they seem. Plots are merely vehicles to convey sub-plots, ideas, sentiments, and impressions of the world around us.
So writin ...more
“There was once, and there was only once; once was all there was.”
There but for the grace of god go I….
This is about compassion, empathy, understanding, putting yourself in another’s shoes.
Walk a mile in his shoes.
Miles’ shoes. It's about Miles. Miles of Miles. Miles towards Miles. Miles is miles away.
Anna did it. She was overwhelmed in others' shoes. Words words words.
“…the woman who h...more
I know Frustration is half the fun. And I had so much fun.
But could you please just TRY to write in goddamned paragraphs?
I saw and felt the Disorientation, Stream of Consciousness and Frustration.
But I majored in poetry, and therefore I do not believe but KNOW that space allows for lyricism in all the ways your Matrix layout did not.
It's just a suggestion. Because otherwise I loved it all.
And to be honest, I don't know if I know how to love you with ...more
Instead, we get the perspectives of four different people who had a brief interaction with him. Mostly, each nar ...more
What's it about? I'm not sure I can articulate an answer. It might be about martyrdom. Or it might be about losing one's humanity, and trying to get it back. Or it might be about boredom and frustration and loss. It might be about horrible dinner parties filled with dreary backward privelged snobs. Or it might be about compassion, fell ...more
and for me this was one of those books. I've placed Ali Smith into the mad genius category.
As suggested by the titular adage of "there but for the [grace of god go I/we]"... this is a book about time, history, memory, chance/coincidence, staying vs. going/leaving, loss generally, and, most importantly, empathy. But delivered, of course, "Ali Style." So, the framework of the novel, on which these themes hang, is that a dinner ...more
What the novel is about is history, both public and private, about knowledge of the world, of ourselves and of o ...more
This is one of the 2012 new additions to 1001 Books You Must Read Before ...more
The book is roughly divided into four parts and each part starts with There, But, For or The. Together they shape the book's strange title. The first part is narrated by Anna Hardie, a currently unemployed former acquaintance of Miles. She is pulled into the story by a phone ...more
The fact is, this book is about being trapped by history. Or herstory. Yourstory and mystory. It's a mystery, mystory.
The fact is, it's brilliant (and infectious) the way Ali Smith plays with language. Puns, jokes, double entendres.
(The fact is, although I scold myself for the hours I've spent watching the racy and historically irresponsible series The Tudors, I wouldn't have caught the reference to Thomas Tallis had I not watched the show before I read this n ...more
Despite the carefully made guest list & the place cards, there's always that unknown guest / event factor that turns things topsy-turvy.
Just like in The Accidental, Ali Smith uses the trope of a mysterious stranger to get the action rolling and it works better this time around because of greater emotional re ...more