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
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
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 (esp with the la...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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
was once 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.
There was once a woman who had met this man thirty years before, had known him slightly for roughly two weeks, in the middle of a summer when they were both seventeen, and hadn't seen him since, though they'd occasionally, for a few years after, exchanged Christmas cards, that kind of thing....more
Do you fear that friends or family may be the victims of spontaneous combustion? When indoors, do you fret that the walls and ceiling will likely collapse?
This is the first book I've read by Ali Smith and I have become an instant fan. I hear this isn't even her best work so I can only imagine what wonders her other volumes contain :-)
For only he who lives his life as a mystery is truly alive.
This book has no quotation marks for dialogue and I like it -...more
Honestly, I couldn't say it better. While the central story in this novel is about a man who goes upstairs and locks himself in a room between dinner and dessert and refuses to leave, most of the book isn't about him at all. It focuses instead o...more
They neglected to mention that the wit and wordplay became precious, or that the reader would reach the end of the book still having no clue why Miles (aka Milo) had locked himself in the room for months, which I found incredibly frustrating.
I debated between giving this four or five stars... mainly because I suppose this would be classified as "experimental fiction," as it doesn't have a clean narrative flow, and, in fact, the narrative really doesn't resolve at all. I prefer my fiction to end with a tidy bow. However, it was a j...more