Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Whole Story and Other Stories” as Want to Read:
The Whole Story and Other Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Whole Story and Other Stories

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  510 ratings  ·  50 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of Hotel World comes a collection of uniquely inventive stories that thread the labyrinth of coincidence, chance, and connections missed and made.

What happens when you run into Death in a busy train station? (You know he’s Death because when he smiles, your cell phone goes dead.) What if your lover falls in love with a tree? Should you
...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Whole Story and Other Stories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Whole Story and Other Stories

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 994)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
MJ Nicholls
It’s official. I am not as smitten with Ali Smith the story writer as I am with Ali Smith the novelist. Isn’t that usually the case? It’s either one or the other with writers. Could Barthelme write a decent novel to save himself? Nah. (Don't link me to The King. Puh-leaze). Could Barth write a short story to save either himself or Mrs Barth? Nah. What about Martin Amis’s short pieces? Oh please! So it goes. There are stories in here I adored, most notably ‘The Universal Story’ which toggles narr ...more
Barbara
Jan 18, 2010 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Barbara by: TERESA has introduced me to this author's books
I rarely read short stories, but reviews of Ali Smith were interesting, so I proceeded accordingly. Her writing is delightful and novel. One could best describe her style as "stream of consciousness". As I read, I could not resist the thoughts of a Mother Goose rhyme, "This is the House That Jack built..." It is known that these ditties are actually varieties of cultural contexts. This particular cumulative tale, which is not really about Jack, describes how the house has indirect links and rela ...more
Teresa
Reread

I just finished a reread of this for discussion with an online group/friend. When I participate in a buddy or group read, I generally don't feel like I have anything else to say afterwards (or maybe it's more accurate to say that I don't feel like rehashing what was discussed.)

My rating of stars stays the same. The stories that were my favorites stayed my favorites. The others didn't captivate me nearly as much this time around now that I know even more of her works and her style. (Feb 17
...more
Jonfaith
My wife and I grabbed this one earlier in the summer at the library sale in Louisville. I had read Hotel World a million years ago after buying it at the Strand and recalled its haunting, inchoate characters. Memories of that appear rather reinforced by some observations in London a year or so later.

I read the first two stories around the time of its purchase and found both intriguing. The third story, the protagonist sees Death at the train staion, I felt glib and stopped there. I read the for
...more
Kai
This collection of stories has a flop or two. Some less than interesting tales. But the ones I love are made for photocopying and mailing to your ideal lover with pressed flowers and a photo of that feather you found in a graveyard.
Issy
These were pretty creative but they lacked any sense of urgency.
Julia
A sharp literary mind and exquisite technique, Smith executes this short story collection with fervor and interest. In my first reading, I have discovered the tremulous strings that attach relationships and how even the bizarre can open a person's eyes to a reality so good and pure that it has to be embraced.
On the whole, The Whole Story and Other Stories is a book I enjoyed, but I had to think very hard through it. I can quickly see it becoming a favorite, but it is definitely not a book you ca
...more
David
In 2003, this was Ali Smith at her most experimental. Two years before this she wrote the Booker shortlisted "Hotel World" which I thought was very good. But here her collection of short stories were mainly too bizarre for my taste. But there is one marvellous exception. "Paradise" is the longest story by far and is actually three stories in one, each probably about three sisters, although the last one doesn't have a name.

However some of the other stories are too fantastical, although no one wi
...more
Jargon Slunce
these stories shed a lot of light on smith's later work. if you have started by reading one of her newer novels i would suggest reading this collection and if you are thinking of reading something by her for the first time you can't go wrong with these stories. the variety of voices and the elegant shifting of the emotional atmosphere within the individual stories as well as throughout the collection as a whole is humbling and absolutely delightful to experience. it is impossible to say which st ...more
Cathrine
re-read this story by story with an online group :-)
late 2013
early 2014


Some of these are purely deliciously all that is wonderful about Ali :-)
Amy
I love Ali Smith. I enjoy her novels, but it's with her charming and quirky (oh god, I hate that word but it seems so apt!) modern short stories where she really excels. They are stories about life - of course they are about life - but an odd, dislocated, disconcerting life. Peculiar lives being lived in peculiar ways, its true, but also incredibly ordinary people living these lives.

From the story of a man searching for hundreds of copies of The Great Gatsby (which, oddly, I had read just befor
...more
Ashleigh
The Universal Story
I loved the use of repetition and elaboration on the same story in this one. I loved the descriptions of the books, particularly the one about the Great Gatsby from 1974 what was yellow but is now more white and the picture sepia. I felt that was just, for some reason, stunning. I loved how the books were used as a boat. I loved the little intricacies that normally you wouldn't get. 4/5

Gothic
I really enjoyed the subtle, warped humour of this one. How every customer had a n
...more
Laura
I haven't read a collection of short stories in years, and it was nice to get back to it with this quiet and internal collection from Smith. I enjoyed the interesting narrative techniques she played with throughout, and I was struck by a strange sort of loneliness in each story. That loneliness was sometimes sad, but it was also sometimes hopeful, and I liked the balance.

Smith had a number of stories that shared a first-person narrator: a first person narrator in a two-character story switches t
...more
Emilie
I love Ali Smith. Hotel World is my favorite, but this novel is quite different. Smith ends the novel with plaguing questions. At this point, the reader has figured out that all of the stories told are intertwined, yet the ending is all too vague. I have a love/hate relationship with writers who like to leave loose ends when everything is expected to be definite. The mystery remains unsolved in a world that is so IMPATIENT. Maybe Ali Smith is trying to teach the lesson of patience or... That you ...more
Margaret
Having just finished reading this book in Washington Square Park while witnessing someone being arrested, I subsequently tried to explain Ali Smith's style to a friend: "Her stories and characters are kind of crazy, but crazy in a way that makes complete and total sense, or would if you were not aware of the existing infrastructure of the universe and human relations."

Not sure how successful I was in making my point, but I love reading about people being chased by a bagpipe band in full regalia
...more
Emma Scott
Most of the best books I've ever read have been by Ali Smith. I couldn't believe that there was another one as blinding as The First Person AOS.
Lesley
I gave 2 stars because this is a book of short stories and out of 12 stories only 4 grab me and I was really interested.
Karen
Some of the stories in here are amazing. "being quick" makes me cry every time I read it. I gave this book four stars and not five, though, because not all of the stories are that great. I guess that's a little unfair, because if a novel had moved me as much as some of the stories in here, I wouldn't have thought twice about giving it five stars. But short story collections demand that you read, engage, disengage and go on to the next, so it's only fair to give each story more or less equal weig ...more
Emma
This might be my favorite collection of Ali Smith's. Every story has two sides, making it feel complete even though no answers are offered. The characters/voices in these stories are as human as possible, and yet we know so very little about them. Even gender is barely a factor. On a delayed train: "We're all in it together, we told each other in shrugs, in little jerkings of the head, what can we do?" Smith has a way of exposing the skeleton of relations between humans, whether romantic or just ...more
Marian
There's much to enjoy here: breezy, effortless style, clever structural play, the writer's brimful confidence, curiosity and charm, the strong sense of place infusing most of the pieces. The story I love best, "Paradise," the tale of a Scottish tourist town on Loch Ness and three semi-miserable young sisters who dream of escaping it, is one of the few that carried much emotional punch. I admired most of the stories, with their light touch, their mystery, their sheer joy; I would've liked a littl ...more
Mary
This collection of short stories is told primarily in a stream-of-consciousness style of writing with very little character description, hardly even gender-identifying pronouns, and minimal plot, really. The perspective shift the author employed in most of the stories was very clever, and I enjoyed her quiet sense of humor and the occasional brilliant line, but overall, the stories felt disjointed and unfinished, like reading someone's freewriting journal.
Ouly
gue masih baca buku ini sih sebenernya. belom abis-abis. ampir setaun padahal.
tapiii... buku ini sangat detail. sangat. bahkan ada di suatu bab dimana dia nerangin lalet yang di nemplok di buku yang di jual di empire.. dengan cara yang mungkin lo pikir 'penting banget ya?' tapi bukannya malah jadi ga penting malah jadi keren. dan Ali Smith menulis dengan cara yang unik. gue awalnya ga ngerti tapi lama-lama juga 'parah!kreatif banget!'
Dana
I liked most of the short stories in this book. I didn't like them as much as I liked "Like", which was the first of her books I read, but I liked it more than Hotel World, which I think received more acclaim. The stories that speak to me the most are the ones that are about relationships between people, where the narrator changes midway through and we suddenly see things from someone else's perspective.
Robert

Ali Smith's short stories are not as playful or experimental as here novels, however there is a certain amount of consistency which I find rare with short story collections. Plus there are a couple of brilliant ones. The opening one being the strongest. At this point read The Accidental or How to be Both and you'll be more aware of this talented author's penmanship.
Liza
Breezy, charming, whimsical, like late brunch in Portland. I bought it at an airport bookstore and lend it out sometimes to people who just want a book that is nice, like guests who have forgotten to bring one but want to sit out in the grass on a sunny afternoon and read.
Tatiana
Less impressed with these than i was with her novels. Though it's very hard for me to make it through an entire short story collection without getting bored. ironically. there are some gems in here though, especially the first one.
Lesley
recommended by jeanette winterson. i had to check it out.
these stories are magical so far. i am getting so sucked in.
my favorite so far is a story about a woman who falls in love with a tree.
Tuck
great stories, masterful writer. she handles her words and sentences like a soccer player handles the sphere or a lover handles your heart. masterful. and the scottish melancholy is an added bonus.
Megan
There were two stories in here (the one with the tree and the one with "The Great Gatsby") that I loved. The rest of it I could take or leave but she has a great writing style.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 33 34 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Now That You're Back
  • The Beautifully Worthless
  • The Slow Fix
  • The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits: Stories
  • Sunstroke and Other Stories
  • Diving Belles
  • Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
  • The Collected Stories
  • Wayward Girls and Wicked Women
  • The World and Other Places: Stories
  • Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night
  • Why Don't You Stop Talking: Stories
  • Across the Bridge: Stories
  • Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class
  • This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You
  • Shattered Sonnets Love Cards and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities
  • Smoke: And Other Early Stories
  • The Matisse Stories
68992
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 Hotel World How to be both Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis (Canongate Myths)

Share This Book

“Outside the leaves on the trees constricted slightly; they were the deep done green of the beginning of autumn. It was a Sunday in September. There would only be four. The clouds were high and the swallows would be here for another month or so before they left for the south before they returned again next summer.” 8 likes
“Tonight I can smell the season the way it's usually only possible to at the very first moments of its return, before you're used to it, when you've forgotten its smell, then there it is back in the air and the flow of things shifting and resettling again.” 8 likes
More quotes…