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The First Person: and Other Stories
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The First Person: and Other Stories

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  781 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
In these energetic, exhilarating stories, Ali Smith portrays a world of everyday dislocation, where people nevertheless find connection, mystery, and love. In “Astute Fiery Luxurious,” a misdelivered package throws the life of a couple into disarray. A boy’s unexplained illness in “I Know Something You Don’t Know” drives his mother to seek guidance from homeopathic healers ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 2nd 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,725)
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Deea
Jul 30, 2015 Deea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Imagine this would be possible: your present self living for a few days/hours with your 14 year old self. Like literally! What conversation would you have with such a younger version of yourself?
It is shocking to see yourself as you haven’t been for nearly thirty years. It is also a bit embarrassing, having yourself around, watching your every move as watching your every move is the last thing that could possibly interest anyone.

Your younger self makes insolence a thing of beauty, she looks at
...more
Maciek
I have not read Ali Smith before picking up this collection of short stories. I am a fan of the short story, and it is always a delight to see an author who not only still practices this form, but also does it well. While in the case of Ali Smith the result is a mixed bag, I have enjoyed reading her stories and will read more of her work in the future.

The First Person and Other Stories contains 12 very different stories. The opening one, "True Short Story" is one of the more interesting; the nar
...more
BrokenTune
Sep 21, 2015 BrokenTune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"You’re not the first person who was ever wounded by love. You’re not the first person who ever knocked on my door. You’re not the first person I ever chanced my arm with. You’re not the first person I ever tried to impress with my brilliant performance of not really being impressed with anything. You’re not the first person to make me laugh. You’re not the first person I ever made laugh. You’re not the first person full stop. But you’re the one right now. I’m the one right now."

I read this in
...more
Teresa
Feb 28, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it
I love Ali Smith's stories. They are inventive, fun, generous, open, insightful, thought-provoking ... I could go on and on. I'd read three of these online before, and they were a pleasure to read again.

The first five of the collection are very strong (so are a couple of the later ones) and my favorite has to be "Fidelio and Bess", a story that interweaves the story of a present-day couple with the story in Beethoven's only opera and the story in the Gershwin opera to great effect: I thought ab
...more
Joca
Agarrei nele mas vou "desagarrar" porque não é o momento certo :P
Xueting
Feb 28, 2015 Xueting rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 days: I think this is the fastest I've ever read a full short stories collection, because I usually like to take a short break after one or two, let them swirl nicely in my head first, before plunging back into the rest. But Ali Smith's short stories are shorter than most that I've read from other authors, and she really organises them meaningfully in this collection so that they flow very well together with tight overarching themes.

Perhaps inevitably, I looooove some of these stories, feel mi
...more
Imogen
Oct 27, 2008 Imogen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My dog has been waking me up every two or three hours every night. Last night she was licking her water bowl and dragging it across the floor, so I filled it then went back to bed; then she woke me up two hours later 'cause she had to pee, and then she woke me up two more hours later because she was excited and wanted to jump on my face and dig into my skull like there was peanut butter in there. Did you know they've done science experiments with sleep where they interrupt your sleep a bunch of ...more
Barry Pierce
I always find short story collections hard to review. What can I say? Some stories were great! and some stories were so-so. I've always enjoyed Ali Smith's unique prose and her characters are always believable, even when she writes of foul mouth children or the such. I liked this collection, although I find hard not to like anything that Ali Smith writes.
Lia
Halfway through reading this I started daydreaming that one day I might run into Ali Smith in a British pub and I'd try to buy her a drink and she'd accept but gently in the flow of the conversation remind me that she's almost the same age as my mother and not much inclined to go to bed with readers regardless. And even her rejection would leave me with the kind of sweet soreness that would have me send some kind of starry-eyed email a week later and then I'd forget I'd said anything until the n ...more
MJ Nicholls
A ragbag of tales here, ranging from the directly emotional (‘True Short Story’ and the title piece), to the intellectually playful (‘Fidelio and Bess’ and ‘Astute Fiery Luxurious’) to the downright hilarious and strange (‘The Child’ and ‘No Exit’). When I first read Ali Smith I was unimpressed (hence this two-rating of Other Stories) and narked at her constant inclusion of the reader as a character—most of the first-person stories replace a character name with ‘you,’ which I found a contrived p ...more
Sarah
Jan 20, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: Jen Campbell
Ali Smith is clearly talented. I recently loved her novel There But for the although I don't think I understood absolutely every point that she made. I received the same response with this collection of short stories. There are preposterous situations in these stories that I loved: a baby suddenly appears in a woman's shopping cart at the grocery store; a woman suddenly gets up in the middle of a movie and goes through the emergency exit that is not really an exit at all; a boy returns home from ...more
Aurora
Feb 07, 2016 Aurora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first story in this collection is a short story about short stories and includes a collection of quotes about the short story from famous writers. So meta, so clever, a short story lover's dream. The Third Person, Fidelo & Bess, The Second Person, Writ and The First Person were my favorites. They're all little treasures that bend the rules for what a short story is and should be while subverting all your expectations. At times like listening in on someone else's private conversation, at ...more
Anne
Feb 27, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it
This was my first Ali Smith book, and now I see what all the fuss has been about. If you admire Cate Kennedy, Lydia Davis, Miranda July, and/or Kevin Brockmeier, Smith shares something with all of these writers--but first and foremost, she rocks a style all her own. She writes with a fierce, intelligent delight, and her stories are whimsical yet urgent; they move at a clip, then suddenly slow you down. Smith has that rare gift for literalizing metaphors (like sitting down with your 14-year-old s ...more
Matthew
I've read some Ali Smith before, both novels and short story collections, so I knew what I was getting into. For the most part, the stories are engaging, either humorous or emotional or both, though a few seem too obtuse or "literary" to have really moved me... except the last story in the volume, which happens to be the eponymous "The First Person." It's perfect. It's everything a short story should be. I loved it, and it reminded me why I loved Ali Smith in the first place. Pure beauty. Even i ...more
Andvari Leitón
Ay, Ali. Te quiero.
Ashleigh
Jun 14, 2010 Ashleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, 2010, short-stories
True Short Story
I really loved this. It was short, believable and poignant. I loved the link with the Echo/Narcissus myth - it's one of my favourite of the Greek myths and I loved the relevance it had to the story overall. I really loved the last few lines: "So when is a short story like a nymph? When the echo of it answers back." I really loved that. 5/5

The Child
I loved the humour in this one! So funny. For all the wrong reasons of course but you know, sometimes the wrong reasons are the r
...more
Kiera Healy
The problem with short story collections is that they can be so hit and miss, and that is definitely true here. I was indifferent to many of Smith's pieces, and some (True Short Story and The Child, for example) erred too far on that side of that overly knowing, smug cleverness of many modern literary short stories. I don't want to read something that smacks me over the head with just how damn literary it is; I want to read something good.

Fortunately, there is some good stuff here. I particularl
...more
Lynley
May 09, 2012 Lynley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I wasn't really interested in most of the stories in this collection, but then I've never read a short story collection in which every story was equally intriguing. I felt they went over my head.

The title itself is self-consciously literary, since highly literate writerly types find themselves thinking in terms of first, second and third person. The first story in the collection includes a wonderful collection of quotations about short stories; a sure sign that this is a book designed to appeal
...more
John Newcomb
Mar 20, 2016 John Newcomb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always a pleasure. My favourite stories were the one where the narrator finds an evil baby in her shopping trolley and the one where the narrator finds herself facing her 14 year old self. But the joy and humour and love and humanity runs through all of the stories. I really need to read her new collection. You are never board with Ali.
Richard Butchins
Ok, so writing short stories about writing short stories is clever? No, it's not. It's arch and self indulgent. Smith is far better when she writes a story, some of which are rather good. Overall there's that "I'm a really clever Oxbridge graduate, look what I can do" feel about this work. Now a good writer has no need to do this, it's a peculiar and very British snobbery about writing, this preoccupation with credentials. All in all the writing is self celebratory, simplistic, at times tiresome ...more
Ben
May 15, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Review

Book Review – Ali Smith – The First Person and other Stories

Penguin – 9780141 038018

4 Stars

The Short stories that form The First Person and other Stories offer a snap-shot of life in all of its shades, from the humourous, to pathos and high emotion.

The 12 stories continue Smith’s work with the form in her previous collections, Other Stories and Other Stories and The Whole Story and Other Stories. At times she subverts the form, throwing a wild experimental side into the work, but they
...more
Jessie Yeo
Overall an enjoyable read,love some characters' voices ; skipped 2 of the short stories i felt that started out well but somewhere in between they got disconnected..maybe thats just me. Three favorites are : The Child, Writ and The First Person.

The Child is so witty and funny, I did imagined myself as 'I'. Writ is such a breathtaking story, so simple and relevant and significant. The First person was written beautifully.
"You stand behind my chair and put your arms round me, then put them in unde
...more
Linda
Feb 10, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Ali Smith is so original and fresh a writer,that
I am going to read her book The Accidental. One
amazing story, the child, is about a woman's discovery
of a child in her supermarket trolley. The child turns
out to be the id or the devil. ANother amazing story
writ finds the author meeting her fourteen year old self.
She is a unique writer.
Dan Coxon
Oct 23, 2014 Dan Coxon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ali Smith has such a distinctive voice that it's hard to compare this with other short story collections. It's almost impossible to imagine anyone else having written a single one of these. She constantly plays with form and structure, subverting expectations and derailing tradition with apparent glee. At times it can become a little overwhelming, but Smith's unique voice - and the tenderness that often rests at the heart of her experimentation - make this a worthwhile and intriguing read. There ...more
Jessica
Oct 09, 2010 Jessica marked it as sampled-a-few
"Franz Kafka says that the short story is a cage in search of a bird."
Meaghan Steeves
The writing was beautiful but life's too short to force yourself to read something you're not into. :/ I'm going to read other short story collections for sure, but I doubt any of them will be by Ali Smith. I was left confused and bored, and angry about there being no quotations. It made it hard to follow the plot while different events happened within the same paragraph, leading to further confusion. I know she's a much loved author, so I was pretty disappointed that even after reading eight of ...more
Vivian
Dec 07, 2015 Vivian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books, 2015
This book did what I was hoping it'd do and that is give me a feel for Ali Smith's writing style (since this is my first exposure to her writing). Her writing, in this at least, is very much stream of conciousness and lacks quotation marks. This was a little difficult for me to get use to in the beginning but by the end I didn't really have a problem with it. However, a lot of the stories would change perspectives or jump to another idea and this did bother me a bit because I felt like it only w ...more
John G
Nov 18, 2015 John G rated it did not like it
Shelves: less-is-more
Read this in a couple of hours which was surprising since I have not been reading much lately given the beautiful weather. The book was only 200 or so pages and the print was large. Don't know whose list this was on that attracted me to it but I am a lover of short stories so it probably did not take much enthusiasm on the reviewer's part for me to give it a try. Her writing is highly regarded, shortlisted for the Man Booker and has won several awards.

This kind of story telling of mundane everyd
...more
Laura
Jul 16, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
My favourite part of the book (the end):
On my way downstairs to make us some tea I see the dining-room table still out there in the garden on the lawn in the moonlight.

It looks unexpected. It looks unsafe, anomalous. It changes the garden. The garden changes it.

It strikes me, as I look at it, that the table is way beyond my control. Up until this moment, I mean, I believed I owned that table. Now, looking at it out in the open air, I know that I don't. I know for the first time that I maybe don'
...more
Amy Wilder
Feb 15, 2010 Amy Wilder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NYT paperback row enticed me by describing them as linked short stories (i.e. really telling a longer story) and lesbian and good. This description (see below) is reminiscent of a proposed work I've been offered recently which intrigued me, so I wanted to see how it worked to have a vaguely sketched love story in short vignettes. It works. Well.

"THE FIRST PERSON: And Other Stories, by Ali Smith (Anchor, $14.95.) In this collection, Smith tests the limits of the story form. Are the nameless roman
...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...

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“The third person is another pair of eyes. The third person is a presentiment of God. ...... a way to tell the story.

It's a box for the endless music that's there between people, waiting to be played.”
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“All short stories long.” 5 likes
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