Tracy's Reviews > Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
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's review
Oct 09, 10

bookshelves: writing, essays, criticism
Read in October, 2010

The essays are thoughtful and well-written. The movie reviews were a bit hodgepodge for my taste. I didn't read every essay because I avoid reading criticism before I've seen a movie, read a book or experienced art. I like to to have my own opinions and observations before digesting others' thoughts. I thought "Speaking In Tongues" was pretty marvelous in the topic, tone and how she built her argument. A lot of smart people with interesting insights exist in the world, but too many of them fail to translate their ideas to page. Smith is very capable of not only lucidly explaining her beliefs, but making her reader talk back to those ideas. It's a pleasant, civilized exchange (I found myself reacting more strongly and wildly to Rebecca Solnit's essays) because Smith's style is intellectual, detached and precise despite some of her topics being quite personal. I found her contained writing worked best when building up Greta Garbo as an icon for the ages. I know that half of the essay ("Hepburn and Garbo") will remain memorable for me, as well as "Speaking In Tongues."
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