There but for the
From the award-winning author of Hotel World and The Accidental, a dazzling, funny, and wonderfully exhilarating new novel.
At a dinner party in the posh London suburb of Greenwich, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
There’s a wonderful scene in the film Educating Rita in which Julie Waters, as an Open University student, asks her tutor (Michael Caine) what assonance is. He tells her it’s a form of rhyme, and gives her an example from a poem where Yeats rhymes the word "swan" with the word "stone". Rita’s comment is “yeah, means getting the rhyme wrong”. It’s a good joke, but it’s been pointed out many times that this is not an example of assonance, but of dissonance, where the fi...more
Miles’s story is told in four parts, first by the...more
I am a big fan of Ali Smith. She likes to set up an ordinary situation and insert into it an absurd event. In The Accidental, my favorite, (and structured more traditionally) a girl moves in with a family and won't leave, thereby changing the family dynamics in important ways. In Hotel World, a much darker tale, a homeless person ends up in a luxurious suite for a night due to other weird events. There But For The , like Hotel World, is a series of vignettes, each from...more
A man accompanies another man to a dinner party. After being introduced to the hosts and other guests, partway through the meal, he excuses himself, goes upstairs into...more
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
“There but for the”, is an example of wonderful modern literature and a good read. Ali Smith is very intelligent and clever in her ways.
“There but for the” is about a man who locks himself in a room upstairs during a dinner party in the lavish London suburb of Greenwich. Miles Garth or the man refuses to leave and his reason for locking himself is unknown. Miles's tale is then told from four different people each with their own point of view: Anna, a forty year old wo...more
Literary fiction explores characters in depth. It’s not unusual for literary authors to write pages of character description, both physical and psychological. Literary fiction is often complex and multi-layered. While these books have a plot, the emphasis is on character more than story.
Popular fiction, on the other hand, is all about story. Ask a reader to describe popular—also known as “commercial”—work and he o...more