5/07/2018

The Ali Smith Reading List



It's no secret or revelation now to anybody that Ali Smith has fast become one of my favourite writers. Well she's been slowly making that a reality over the last couple of years as I make my way through everything she's ever written. I feel like in NZ at least, she's a bit underrated and dare I say it, perhaps more 'niche'. Her writing is very distinct and certainly not for everyone. It requires patience and a willingness to break away from the traditional ideas we have for the way in which a text should be constructed. They are rewarding and her works are just beauteous in my opinion. Today I thought I'd compile a little reading list of books by Ali that I've read myself and hopefully convince someone to read her work. If only so I somewhat selfishly have more people to wax lyrical offline about her work to. 

how to be both: I wrote a rather lengthy review of this title here. In summary, the text is split into two narratives, camera and eyes, which both intertwine. It dwells on concepts of art, loss and love, as well as the transcendentalism of time. It's a book of contemplation and meaning. The book is split between two time periods, 2014 and renaissance Italy and is inspired by the multifaceted layers of fresco paintings. Go read my post about it for more details but honestly it's one of the best novels I've read this year, possibly ever. 

the accidental: A book that is going to forever remind me of Summertime as that is when I read it. A dysfunctional yet somewhat eccentric mix of characters on holiday in Norwich have their lives forever changed by a university student, Amber. The novel follows a three-act structure, with each closing with cinematic references of some kind. All the more clever when you realise Astrid, the protagonist has a passion for videography. It's another exquisite book combining various narrational styles. 

artful: "You can't step into the same story twice, or maybe it's that stories, books, art can't step into the same person twice, maybe it's that they allow for our mutability, are ready for us at all times". Artful is essentially Smith's ode to art and literature. Constructed as a series of lectures that are naturally almost like stories and go beyond the mere surface of a condensed academic lecture. Heck, if all my lectures had been like this, Universty would have been much more enticing. Anyway, I loved losing myself in this book on many a train trip to and from work. 

the seasonal quartet*: So far, Autumn+Winter have been published with Spring and Summer still to follow. Admittedly I have only read Autumn and loved its currency and the fact it was so quick to read and escape into. Winter is on my to-read list. ASAP actually, but I am making myself finish some other books first. 

public library and other stories: I loved this short story collection, which acted as both fiction and nonfiction. Each story is prefaced with anecdotes about libraries and their unfortunate demise in the digital age. I read this collection ages ago but will be rereading it in the not-too-distant future. I do remember thoroughly enjoying it though.

-Have you read any Ali Smith books before? What did you think of them?

*Review Copy

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