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Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,055 ratings  ·  244 reviews
From the astonishingly talented writer of The Accidental and Hotel World comes Ali Smith’s brilliant retelling of Ovid’s gender-bending myth of Iphis and Ianthe, as seen through the eyes of two Scottish sisters. Girl Meets Boy is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, and the absurdity of consumerism, as well as a story of reversals and revelations ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Canongate U.S. (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
this is not my favorite ali smith, but its charming, and it is better than the other books in this series look. does that make sense? i loved elements of this novella, but some of it seemed a bit pat. her writing is still gorgeous though.
MJ Nicholls
Another day, another terrific novel from Ali Smith. I have resolved to gobble up her canon in the most heroic time possible, like an overweight man backing a lorryload of curries and waffles into his ecstatic gob. In Glasgow we have a meal called the Everything & More, which is enough food for an entire Ethiopian village in a bucket. Battered.

This delightful story frames the myth of Iphis (woman disguises her daughter as a man, daughter turns into a man later on) within a tale of sexual iden
...more
Abeer Hoque
"Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says."

I was hooked by the first line of "Girls Meets Boy" by Ali Smith and had to buy it immediately (from the awesome bookstore, Raven Used Books, in Northampton, MA). GMB is a little book, a modern retelling of the myth of Iphis. Not to worry, the myth is explained both traditionally in poetic old school language and in everyday slang, as well as through the story of two Scottish sisters in modern day Iverness: the brooding smartass lay
...more
Arthur
Uma bela duma introdução à obra de Ali Smith. Não porque seja lá o mais representativo de seus romances, mas porque é fininho pacas e não tem desculpa para não ler. É, também, o mais acessível: centralizado em duas narradoras, apresentadas logo no início do romance, não temos muito aquele estranhamento de nos habituarmos com cada parte nova do livro (como em Hotel Mundo e Suíte em quatro movimentos).

Eu não consigo dar menos de cinco estrelas pra essa mulher. Julguem-me.
Barry Pierce
If this was written by Jodi Picoult or Danielle Steel is would be branded as an "unconventional love story". Thankfully it's written by Ali Smith who has enough brains in her head to write a love story which happens to be unconventional.
Maureen
after i read girl meets boy i realized it was a lot more like what i had expected eugenides' middlesex to be than middlesex actually was. i will definitely read this again, perhaps when more in the mood for a love story, and i'm interested in reading more of ali smith's work.

it is a book that plays out at a break-neck pace, except for the moments where the language is allowed to meander into scenes of poetry and gives one pause in the midst of beauty. there is much to love in ali smith's finesse
...more
Damian
Dec 30, 2007 Damian rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who with a spare six hours
Shelves: reads
now. i read this book in two sittings. it's really rather short. it's a contemporary retelling of the myth of iphis and ianthe, part of ovid's metamorphoses series (Pygmalion, which is the source for my fair lady, is also part of this). and these are the facts. is the book any good? i'm not sure. sometimes, it managed to send me to a world only just different than ours, but somewhat more magical, and at times, it feels clunky. I think what it succeeds or fails on is this - the plot is a bit of a ...more
Beth
Not much to say about the book itself - not one of my favorites. The story dragged quite a bit. But there is one quote that stuck with me:

"Like that poem I knew, about how you sit and read your way through a book then close the book and put it on the shelf, and maybe, life being so short, you'll die before you ever open that book again and its pages, the single pages, shut in the book on the shelf, will maybe never see light again..."

Paloma Etienne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel Simmons
"Nobody grows up mythless, Robin said. It's what we do with the myths we grow up with that matters" (p. 98). An exuberant ode to love and identity, in all its many variations.
Katie
No words. I'm not usually in to love stories but this was deliciously beautiful.
Helena
Hmmm. I approve. :3

When you blend Greek mythology with lesbianism, the mix is sure to be enchanting, and this book proves it. Based on the myth of Iphis, this book talks about girls and boys, girls and girls and everything in between. It is written almost entirely in a stream-of-consciousness, which did not bother me in the least, though I tend to be wary of overdoing stream-of-consciousness. It is a celebration of multiplicity, metamorphosis (I'm looking at you, Ovid), lesbianism and feminism.
...more
Laleña
"I had not known, before us, that every vein in my body was capable of carrying light, like a river seen from a train makes a channel of sky etch itself deep into a landscape. I had not really known I could be so much more than myself. I had not known another body could do this to mine." p.81
Michaela
Ali Smith's, Girl Meets Boy, is a postmodernist novella based on a myth from Ovid's Metamorphoses. It's OVERWHELMED with contemporary themes, such as human rights, feminism, ...

Just write a bloody essay instead.
Sara
Warm, hilarious, and such tasteful wedding gifts from the Loch Ness Monster.
Anne
In general, I was fairly disappointed in this one. There was a serious lack of plot, and that is always my number one complaint about modern literary fiction -- too much introspective character study and not nearly enough plot. (If I ask you what a book is about about and you can't answer with, "Well, this happens and then this happens and then this happens," I know I probably won't love it.)

I feel like Smith set herself up with a difficult task with this story in retelling the Iphis myth, becau
...more
Roy Elmer
Girl Meets Boy is part of the Canongate Myths series; a series of modern retellings of classical myths and/or religious texts that are often laced with contemporary allegory. Ali Smith's entry in the series tackles a the tale of Daphne and Ianthi and where the Greek myth blurred the lines between gender and ancient propriety, Girl Meets Boy essentially follows suit.

Smith plays with ideas of gender norms and stereotypes throughout this novella, intentionally mixing gender nomenclature and twistin
...more
Katherine
Lesbian novelist Ali Smith's addition to the stellar Canongate Myths series is this retelling of the story of Iphis. She takes us on the parallel journeys of two sisters, Anthea and Midge, who are faced in different ways with the need for change.

Anthea has a rich history through her grandparents of refusal to conform to expectations of gender, class and culture, and she has an instinctively compassionate view of how the world ought to be. But she lacks the courage to change even her own life. I
...more
Kevin
Jan 13, 2008 Kevin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: activists, inactivists, women, men
Shelves: fiction, queerish
Ali Smith is probably my favourite modern writer. She's got a really sharp Scottish ear for language and her tone is always playful and clear. I guess she'd be called postmodern because she's always writing stories about stories that sometimes call attention to point of view and grammar and punctuation, etc. but she's not at all like one of those awful deconstructionist look-at-me-i'm-writing-a-story-and-you're-reading-it-too-bad-
that's-all-it's-about writers. She has soul. She manages to acknow
...more
Courtney Johnston
A supple, sexy retelling of the story of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid's Metamorphoses, from the Canongate series of contemporary writers' takes on ancient myths.

Suitably for a book that partly about the power of words to shape and transform us, Smith's writing is a joy - sometimes lilting and trilling, sometimes choppy - and most especially when she writes about falling in love:

She had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She was as meaty as a girl. She was as graceful as a boy. She was
...more
Elizabeth
'Things will always be different, because things can always be different'

In the space of the short novel Ali Smith crams much into her light, easy but meaningful prose: gender fluidity, sexism, activism, branding, contemporary Scotland, mythology and duality, always duality of being both and not, so gloriously explored in her latest book, How To Be Both. In more than the narrative of girl meets boy and it's not. A simple story of two sisters, both finding their way, finding love, finding their
...more
Sarah
A myth about transformation and conformity is recreated as a myth about transformation and non-conformity.
No longer is Iphis searching for a penis; she is searching for a voice--and in finding it, she surprises even herself with the words that emerge.
Ali Smith gives us prose like Jeanette Winterson, imagination like Angela Carter, and an exuberant and fearless voice that is all her own.
Lydia
The blurb of this book grabbed me, and then I opened a page, and it really didn't let me go until the end.

This is a powerful little book.

It's feminist. It has LGBTIQA characters, it's based in Ancient myth. What more do you want, really?

But in all seriousness, this is a really well-crafted book. I wish it hadn't been so sparse in places but it's lovely just to read a book about my own kind of people for once.

I would be interested in reading the rest of Smith's work, but I'll be honest, I don't t
...more
Marley KD
I am only part way through but Ali Smith is just so incredibly good. Just finished the "Us" chapter which ends with one of the best pieces of writing about what it is to be in love and in lust I have ever read.

Okay, just finished. "It was always the stories that needed the telling that gave us the rope we could cross any river with. They balanced us high above any crevasse. They made us be brave. They met us well. They changed us. It was in their nature to."

"Nothing more than what happens when t
...more
Jim
I don’t know why I keep picking up modern retellings of myths because I’m really not that fond of them. That said I’d never heard the story of Iphis before and I could easily see if a contemporary writer was handed it to present to a modern day audience where they might go with it. Two issues jump out: the (supposed) inferiority of women and the (arguable) wrongness of same sex attraction. In the myth the solution is easy (but then there are gods involved): transform the girl into a boy. And tha ...more
Tilly
Smith's novel is part of the Canongate Myths series, a group of novels aiming to reimagine individual mythologic works for contemporary society. This book uses as its base the story of Iphis - the girl child raised as a boy by her mother (because her father thought a female child was an unaffordable luxury) who later falls in love with the female Ianthe, becomes engaged to her and is eventually, after much supplication to the gods, transformed into a boy before the wedding, allowing the pair to ...more
Charlotte Jones
This book is only 164 pages and makes for a very fast-paced read. It is different from everything I’ve ever read in that there are no quotation marks around any of the dialogue. This is confusing at first but I soon got used to it and really enjoyed the book.

This novel is based on the myth of Iphis which I have never read before but this has made me really interested to look into more Greek myths and legends. It deals with themes of feminism, homosexuality, environmental issues, morals, eating d
...more
Ellie
I started reading this and got a bit concerned as I'm not familiar with Ovid's Methamorphoses however it is only one story, which is explained in the book> I realised I did know the myth of Iphis and Ianthe after all. There's certainly a style to the writing in this book and it was enjoyable to read even if the plot was a bit airy. It did highlight the prejudices against homosexuality and how even people who think they can accept still feel uncomfortable with it (displayed in Anthea's sister' ...more
Lucy
I found Girl Meets Boy in my local charity shop and picked it up based on a booktube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qOb4...)

This book is based on the story of Iphis and Ianthe within Ovid's Metamorphosis and through re-imaginging the myth Ali Smith challenges modern day societies concepts of gender and sexuality. However Smith also ties sections regarding eating disorders, bottled water corporations, lad culture and many others which I'm probably forgetting.

Put simply this book is about
...more
Bellish
Where have you been all my life, Ali Smith?

This is a wonderful little slip of a book. Many of the things I loved about it are the same things I loved about the far more substantial How To Be Both. I loved the flowing lyrical style of the writing. I loved the honest, warts-and-all depiction of family relationships. I loved that the title sounds sound straight but is quite the opposite (though didn't need bashing over the head with that on page 100, thanks: I'm not dim). I loved the riffing on a f
...more
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Ali Smith is a writer, born in 1962 in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and ho ...more
More about Ali Smith...
The Accidental There But for The How to Be Both Hotel World Artful

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“She had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl’s toughness. She has a boy’s gentleness. She was as meaty as a girl. She was as graceful as a boy. She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl. She was as pretty and delicate and dainty as a boy. She turned boys' heads like a girl. She turned girls' heads like a boy. She made love like a boy. She made love like a girl. She was so boyish it was girlish, so girlish it was boyish, she made me want to rove the world writing our names on every tree. I had simply never found someone so right. Sometimes this shocked me so much that I was unable to speak.” 18 likes
“And it was always the stories that needed the telling that gave us the rope we could cross any river with. They balanced us high above any crevasse. They made us be natural acrobats. They made us brave. They met us well. They changed us. It was in their nature to.” 16 likes
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