MJ Nicholls's Reviews > The First Person and Other Stories

The First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith
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Oct 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: hoots-mon, short-stories, distaff
Read on October 05, 2011

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 ploy at times, then quite repetitive. This technique is still present here, but its purpose is a little clearer, more intimate. Plus I have built up a resistance to it, having read the previous collection.

Smith’s shorts are the opposite of her novels: stripped-down language, conversational, loose syntax, a lazy feel. Clearly these are mere deceptions, for deeper down her work subverts old story forms and has a more postmodern aesthetic, and moments of warmth and radiance rise from the page regardless of how many cockamamie dialogues we’re being drawn into. Still: I can’t help the feeling I won’t fully embrace her shorts as I did her novels. Here’s hoping.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Donna (new)

Donna I am envious. You have found a writer who lights you on fire and now you're reading all the works. I love it when that happens. When I've finished the long work I have to get done, I'm going to make sure that happens to me and just binge on someone.


message 2: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls It's a wonderful, rare thing when a writer takes hold of your life for a while. I should probably slow down, savour her work a little, but she's irresistible.


message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna I did this with Faulkner, and because I didn't want it to end I set aside one book. I still haven't read it.


message 4: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Ah well. Onward I go with Ms. Smith!


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