MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST Long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize One of Get news about Literary Fiction books, authors, and more Autumn by Ali Smith. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Autumn is about a long platonic friendship between an elderly man Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Autumn, like Smith's last book, How to Be Both, is a gorgeously constructed puzzle that challenges the reader to solve it, with a narrative that darts. Autumn book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Autumn. Season of Autumn. (Seasonal #1). by . More lists with this book.
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This is not only the first of four novels based on the seasons, but it has also been acclaimed as the first Brexit novel. This makes it very British in some ways and the feelings in the country and the reactions to the vote form part of the novel, as in this much quoted piece: All across the country, what had happened whipped about by itself as if a live electric wire had snapped off a pylon in a storm and was whipping about in the air abov This is not only the first of four novels based on the seasons, but it has also been acclaimed as the first Brexit novel.
All across the country, what had happened whipped about by itself as if a live electric wire had snapped off a pylon in a storm and was whipping about in the air above the trees, the roofs, the traffic. All across the country, people felt it was the wrong thing. All across the country, people felt it was the right thing. Daniel Gluck is a century old, Jewish and in a care home. Elisabeth was born in ; during her childhood in the s she lived next to Daniel Gluck and a friendship developed; they are kindred spirits and Daniel helps Elisabeth think in new ways.
One of the ways he does this is through art and in particular the art of Pauline Boty, a little known s artist and her art is woven through the book. The novel is well written and constructed and flits between vignettes and scenes some of which are very pertinent, some amusing, others very sad.
The scenes in the post office when Elisabeth is trying to renew her passport are straight out of Monty Python. It feels very current and there are reflections on recent events and the nature of social media. But news right now is like a flock of speeded-up sheep running off the side of a cliff. The part where Elisabeth walks in on them kissing is hilarious.
The novel is powerfully propelled by the narrative voice and despite covering a broad range of topics like art, politics, feminism, literature, the nature of memory, prejudice and Brexit of course , it is never hard to read. It is a reflection on who we are and what we are made of, As Deborah Levy says: I'm tired of anger. I'm tired of selfishness. I'm tired of the violence that's on it's way, that's coming, that hasn't happened yet. I'm tired of lying governments. I'm tired of people not caring whether they're being lied to anymore.
Nov 15, Simon rated it really liked it. I agreed politically on Brexit and her observations of the good and bad And loving so much. Just my thoughts. Will be heading to Winter soon. View all 3 comments. Jan 12, Seemita rated it liked it Shelves: Centred around the something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, sometimes acerbic but entirely warming season of their fr [A formidable 3.
Centred around the something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, sometimes acerbic but entirely warming season of their friendship. Throwing light on the two personalities and what edification the many seasons of life imparts, the chapters run forward and backward on the tenuous thread of time. Smith shapes her Elisabeth with a smart countenance, boisterous wit, wry humour and banal gloom.
The man creases up. It seems he was joking; his shoulders go up and down but no sound comes out of him. It's like laughter, but also like a parody of laughter, and simultaneously a bit like he's having an asthma attack. May be you're not allowed to laugh out loud behind the counter of the main Post Office. Whether it is the ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles she encounters in her efforts to secure a passport or the disdain she receives at her rebellious choice of thesising on Pauline Boty ,Elisabeth comes across as a feisty heroine who is subdued by the autumnal phase of her friend and the dried momentum of her own life.
Amidst random allusion to political upheavals in Europe read Brexit and the millennium bug, it is the generous badinage between the two key characters that bring this work to life. Winter, I await. View all 30 comments. Heaps of spine-tingling narrative pleasure. Horripilating, is that the word? Like migraine aura but far more fun.
No need to mention the B word or the T word here.
Quite the opposite with Autumn. Reading Smith one feels one has met wi Heaps of spine-tingling narrative pleasure. Reading Smith one feels one has met with a very like-minded person. But that's not all. The book is full of surprises. There were perhaps one or two bits of experimentation I didn't like, neither was I amused by the puns, but these are quibbles. A brilliant kind of frenetic story telling.
Read it. View all 5 comments. Sep 16, Lark Benobi rated it it was amazing Shelves: The novel seems to want to present me with all the sadness in the world, and all the bleakness of recent history, and it seemed determined to remind me of all the meannesses that people can heap upon one another some of it through neglect some of it through evil acts --and yet even as the novel forced me to face these things, at its center was a beautiful hope.
The novel is a paean to the power of language, and to the mystery of human interaction, and to the way small daily gestures of kindne The novel seems to want to present me with all the sadness in the world, and all the bleakness of recent history, and it seemed determined to remind me of all the meannesses that people can heap upon one another some of it through neglect some of it through evil acts --and yet even as the novel forced me to face these things, at its center was a beautiful hope.
The novel is a paean to the power of language, and to the mystery of human interaction, and to the way small daily gestures of kindness can reverberate and magnify upon themselves across the years. I think that's what it was about, anyway. That's what it was about for me, today. More than most novels, this novel felt like a dialog, where I was part of the creation of story, and where the feelings an image or a scene gave to me, however personal, were being acknowledged and even invited in by the text.
It left me feeling sad, and it left me also feeling very much in love with my own family, somehow. I felt more appreciation for all that is idiosyncratic and flawed, and f0r those who try to think new thoughts rather than just going along with what everyone else thinks. View all 8 comments. I finished this novel a few days ago, but put off the review.
To speak quite frankly, I think Autumn is a novel that is a touch too smart for me to properly wrap my head around. Smith's prose flips, twists, jumps, and skitters across the page with vivacity and wit, but also left me feeling overwhelmed with stylistic experimentation.
So, I turned to interviews with Smith and reviews others have written to better understand what I had just read. It isn't simply the writing that left me confused, bu I finished this novel a few days ago, but put off the review.
It isn't simply the writing that left me confused, but the real and imagined proceedings of the book with which I was unfamiliar.
The knee-jerk is for me to write that these are a group of interlaced stories, but they are more a paint-splatter on canvas. The Profumo affair? I was entirely oblivious to this prior to my reading, but it is frequently referenced during the proceedings. Similarly, pop-art phenom Pauline Boty's work and life are used as touchstones throughout the book.
Pauline Boty's Scandal '63 I realize that my earlier statements may reflect poorly on Smith's writing, which was jarring, but not unpleasant. Certainly, some of the experimentation with page, spacing, and repetition seem more like poetry than prose to me. However, there were many bits of wordplay and colourful dialogue that helped to enliven the proceedings. This is an exceptionally witty book and it offers no moment for one to collect one's proverbial breath before setting into another dense packet of athletic word-smithing.
My favourite bits are those that stayed focused on Elisabeth and Daniel's relationship. Elisabeth is a young girl when she first meets her aged neighbour and begins a lifelong friendship for the both of them.
The book flips and flops between Daniel's delirium in hospital and he and Elisabeth's formative relationship. The friendship here, between the young and the old, is too often left to the wayside in literature and made for the novel's best scenes. That Smith is both able to drive home philosophical musings entwined with a terrific platonic love story speaks to her skill.
In my post-novel readings, I discovered that Smith wrote this novel in a fury following Brexit last year. Indeed, the book has a bit of that feeling: The parts about Brexit are affecting, and they never felt too preachy to me. Smith is for the most part objective, choosing instead to use Elisabeth and Daniel's discussions to teach about provisional truth and then forcing the reader to make their own judgements. The novel is spotty, but works as a fine introduction to Smith.
I may not have gotten all the references--reading A Tale of Two Cities seems to have been an unspoken prerequisite--but I appreciated enough of the book. Despite its small package, it's boiling over with ideas. To my taste, I'd prefer a book that distilled its ideas more effectively. Autumn often feels more like a shotgun blast than a precision shot.
I wish I could understand why Boty's work ties in with Brexit and an intergenerational relationship, but I didn't. I'll be sure to try my luck again with Winter early next year. Hopefully I'll be better suited for the task!
View all 12 comments. Every Story Tells a Picture At the heart of Ali Smith's seemingly chaotic but actually tightly-organized new novel is a love relationship, between a thirtyish art lecturer, Elisabeth Demand, and a year-old man, Daniel Gluck.
Their love was born over two decades earlier, when Elisabeth's mother roped in her elderly neighbor to look after her daughter. And what a baby-sitter Daniel turns out to be: One afternoon, he offers Every Story Tells a Picture At the heart of Ali Smith's seemingly chaotic but actually tightly-organized new novel is a love relationship, between a thirtyish art lecturer, Elisabeth Demand, and a year-old man, Daniel Gluck.
The background is rich dark blue, Daniel said. A blue much darker than the sky. On top of the dark blue, in the middle of the picture, there's a shape made of pale paper that looks like a round full moon. On top of the moon, bigger than the moon, there's a cut-out black and white lady wearing a swimsuit, cut from a newspaper or fashion magazine. And next to her, as if she's leaning against it, there's a giant human hand.
And the giant hand is holding inside it a tiny hand, a baby's hand. More truthfully, the baby's hand is also holding the big hand, holding it by its thumb.
Below all this, there's a stylized picture of a woman's face, the same face repeated several times, but with a different coloured curl of real hair hanging over its nose each time— […] Ali Smith herself is of course playing the opposite game, for her stories lead in the end to pictures, real pictures by a female artist of the nineteen-sixties who was briefly famous, then forgotten, then recently rediscovered. But, as she did in her previous novel, How To Be Both , Smith conceals the painter's name until halfway through the book.
I shall do the same, giving details and showing some of her work only in my second section, which I shall mark off as a spoiler.
It is not that Smith is playing a guessing game—I had never heard of the artist, and I was an art history student myself at the time—but that the author's medium is words.
Typing out the excerpt above, I had a small reproduction of the painting itself by my side. They do different things. The painting makes an immediate impact, after which you begin to look for the detail. But Daniel starts with the detail, which is to say with the meaning behind the picture. Describing it to a child, he becomes a kind of magician, conjuring rabbit images which chase one another in her mind. Much later we realize that he is also conjuring the woman who selected these images, casting us back to that brief early-sixties period when the postwar winter was turning to spring.
Smith long ago gave up telling stories in linear fashion, and this book pays scant heed to the conventions of prose narrative. Far better to think of her as a poet, and accept her images, literal or dreamlike, for whatever pattern the eventually leave in your mind. She starts with Daniel on a beach, surreal, evocative, death or merely a dream. Then Elisabeth struggling with petty officialdom in a post office penned by Kafka—only this is From there we jump characters and decades, back and forth, until the novel finally casts anchor in the first of those magical adult-child encounters with which I started.
Their relationship deepens steadily over the rest of the book, as does our view of the almost-forgotten artist, but we are left to fill in the back-stories of the two principals ourselves. For Daniel, there are hints of a Holocaust background and a career as a songwriter; for Elisabeth, various scenes with her rather vapid mother, and hints of a ten-year hiatus in her life that is never explained. Those who expect plot threads to be neatly tied up should probably not even start, though I personally find something very moving in Smith's deliberate incompleteness.
Why the title, Autumn? It is intended to be the first of four thematically-connected novels, that much I know. But I'm not sure I would have thought of this season otherwise.
It is true that Daniel's long life is clearly ebbing to is close.
It is true that the act of looking back at an earlier age roughly the year of the author's birth can bring on an autumnal nostalgia. And towards the end of the novel there are passages that are clearly set at the year's end, one of which I shall quote in a moment for its beauty. But the real change in Smith's England is not a transition, but a fracture; this is surely the first post-Brexit novel: All across the country, there was misery and rejoicing.
All across the country, people were laughing their heads off. All across the country, people felt legitimized. All across the country, people felt bereaved and shocked. Any reference you may detect, here and elsewhere, to the famous opening of A Tale of Two Cities is deliberate; it is the book that Elisabeth reads when she visits Daniel. At another time, she brings Brave New World, whose dystopia is reflected in a modern England of security cameras and electrified fences.
But Smith does not forget the origin of that title, Miranda's cry of innocent wonder in The Tempest. One other book Elisabeth has with her, clearly a talisman of Daniel's also, is Ovid's Metamorphoses, which relates even the most cataclysmic of changes to the age-old processes of the natural world. And Ali Smith's own writing reflects this too: November again.
It's more winter than autumn.
That's not mist. It's fog. The sycamore seeds hit the glass in the wind like—no, not like anything else, like sycamore seeds hitting window glass. There've been a couple of windy nights.
The leaves are stuck to the ground with the wet. The ones on the paving are yellow and rotting, wanwood, leafmeal. One is so stuck that when it eventually peels away, its leafshape left behind, shadow of a leaf, will last on the pavement till next spring. The following section says a little more about the artist in the background of the book, shows a few of her paintings, and footnotes a couple of other real people mentioned in the text. Of course, you could always Google this information for yourself as you come to it in your reading.
She was its only female member. She was thus a contemporary of Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips, and David Hockney, who went on to greater fame, but her own work disappeared after her early death in , and has only recently been rediscovered.
The movement as a whole took every aspect of contemporary life as its subject—politics, social attitudes, popular icons, the media—but as its only female member, Boty's subjects were frequently feminist, as can be seen in the painting described in my first quotation above, and the diptych It's A Man's World which Smith also describes in some detail: Boty had a parallel career as an actress.
A nightmare sequence in Ken Russell's documentary about the movement, Pop Goes the Easel, led to offers of roles in movies and at the Royal Court Theatre. Her blonde hair, unabashed sexuality, and physical resemblance to the French film star led to her being known as "the Wimbledon Bardot. In , she became pregnant, but a prenatal examination revealed an aggressive cancer. Determined to carry the baby to term, she refused chemotherapy, and died five months after her daughter was born.
She was One picture that plays a significant part in the novel is Scandal ; Boty is shown holding it above, but the original has never been recovered. The scandal in question was the Profumo Affair that ultimately brought down the government of Harold Macmillan. Anyone living in Britain at the time would pick up on references that Smith mentions only in passing, but other readers might require a little more. In a speech to the House of Commons, Profumo denied any impropriety, but the cover-up did not succeed.
The photo that Boty used, incidentally, was given her by the photographer Lewis Morley, whose published picture of Keeler was for a time as iconic in Britain as, say, the still of Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grating.
In compiling the list, I also did not exactly follow mu original star ratings, but rather the takeaway value after time has passed. In particular, there are two books, Lincoln in the Bardo and Go, Went, Gone to which I gave only 4 stars, but which I recognize as important books, with more staying power than many that I enjoyed more at the time, but have since forgotten.
To those, I would add a fourth: Judas by Amos Oz, read at the same time and of similar quality, but actually published at the end of The ten titles below are in descending order i.
The links are to my reviews: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry 2. Autumn by Ali Smith 3. Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss 4.
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor 6. Exit West by Moshin Hamid 8. Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo 9. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck And half that number again that didn't quite make it, in alphabetical order by authors: Souvenirs dormants by Patrick Modiano Improvement by Joan Silber Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout View all 11 comments.
At first I couldn't be sure whether I loved or hated this short novel. Ali Smith's language is like a maze for the mind. It's both stilted and beautiful, a stream of consciousness that reworks the reader's own thoughts into a new pattern. It feels like a freeing of the consciousness but also like a new set of walls.
It takes you outside your own experience of time, but forces you into someone else's, stating with a character's death dreamscape. It's not always comfortable. In many ways reminded At first I couldn't be sure whether I loved or hated this short novel. In many ways reminded me of my recent reading of Alice in Wonderland, a mix of the real and fantastic, full to the brim with intertextuality and metaphor. It is memorable in the best kind of fashion.
Nov 25, Teresa rated it really liked it. Even 'Trump' is a one-word sentence within the novel, though I hesitate to add it to the list, except to note that it adds to the contemporaneity. Perhaps she means the verb and it's an imperative sentence Weave all of the above an 4.
Weave all of the above and know Ali Smith. Otherwise, some of the revelations will feel too familiar. Briefly, a fatherless, intellectual girl, to the disapproval of her carefree, careless mother, befriends an elderly neighbour who whets her appetite for art, literature and truth. While bemoaning the current state of the world, he encourages her to keep looking ahead with hope.
When I finished reading, I was struck by how Smth's tone moved from poetic to conversational to funny and downright crude in a way that reminded me of Sylvia Plath 's The Bell Jar. Very funny scenes. He delights in telling her: There is a lot of humour throughout the book. He has been a major life influence, introducing her, by verbal description only, to the art of Pauline Boty, because the paintings had disappeared. And he talks at length about The Scandal, referring to what I know as the Profumo Affair, where model Christine Keeler had dalliances with both English and Russian officials during the same period of time.
Except the other way round, the old self feeding off the young one. All that was left would be the eyes, pleading, trapped behind the eyeholes. A frost has snapped millions of trees all across the country into brightness. The days are unexpectedly mild. And another to Pauline Boty. View all 13 comments. Nov 20, MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing Shelves: Ali Smith is a prolific story writer, critic, and playwright, but her novels alone have blasted her into the mesosphere of critical adulation, and this first part of an exciting seasonal quartet furthers her familiar brand of humorous, gentle, playful, and bedazzling brilliance.
Timehopping across the century, the novel focuses on the adopted father relationship between an art lecturer and an enigmatic former dancer, lyricist, and sixties art scenester. Among numerous other charming tangents and tangles. This is a delightful concoction and evocative of the titular season.
A beautiful novel of ideas and passions, featuring beautiful characters full of ideas and passions. Nobody writes like Ali Smith. That's absolutely my favorite thing about her books. Once you start reading you remember just how witty, observant, and playful she is, and how that comes through so clearly through her writing style. It's no different in Autumn , the first in a quartet of seasonal novels the author has begun, musing on art, politics, and the tumultuous nature of life in all its different seasons.
This first installment is clearly a post-Brexit musing—but that's not all it aims to be. Ali Smith paints the lovely picture of a friendship between a young woman and elderly man alongside the exploration of a forgotten historical figure, Pauline Boty the only female British Pop artist. Fans of How to be both will enjoy this artistic examination. Smith also muses on the state of our world, its news cycle, and the complicated nature of knowledge vs belief.
It's a timely novel, and one that I'm not surprised to see on the Man Booker longlist this year. Though it wasn't my favorite Smith novel, I can see it standing the test of time, especially as she goes on to explore more in the next 3 installments.
I may even find it more enjoyable upon a re-read, as with any Smith work, there is so much to uncover. View 1 comment. Oct 08, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: This is a rewarding story of friendship over the long haul, the kind that seems to stand outside time. The relationship is between a female art historian and an elderly family neighbor, a man who listened to and empowered her from starting around age We dip into the past of their connection as we experience Elisabeth in our present communing with her buddy Daniel in his lucid moments at a nursing home during his final fade with dementia at age There is a sense of refuge and sanity for h This is a rewarding story of friendship over the long haul, the kind that seems to stand outside time.
There is a sense of refuge and sanity for her there amid the disturbing regression of civilization surrounding the Brexit vote of the UK. As was true in two other Smith novels I read, there is an aesthetic quest of characters to adapt artistic perceptions to frame their reality and that of the world. I appreciated how this tale opened an interest for me in a woman pop artist, Pauline Boty, and the way her work figured in the amazing bond between Elisabeth and Daniel despite the age separation of plus years.
However, my modest rating reflects liking her earlier books The Accidental and How to Be Both better because they had key characters who are directly involved in creating art photography and painting. Upon first meeting Daniel, Elisabeth is getting troubled by the hypocrisies in the adult world and is at the point rejecting all moral precepts. He respects her as an equal and is willing to be playful or serious depending on her needs, but always he helped her to nurture her own vision.
She is able to confess to him her worry of forgetting how to picture her father. As a game, Daniel challenges her imagination to make up her own rules for perceiving meaning in the world, such as making up alternative endings to classic stories and fables. Other times, surprising zingers of insight make ripples in my mind which seem to grow as they progress rather than fading. For example, at an early point Elisabeth asks him if he would like to time travel: Time travel is real, Daniel said,.
We do it all the time. Moment to moment, minute to minute. Often Daniel paints pictures in words, evoking an imagination of particular paintings composed of collages of images and riots of color. Later, she discovers the imaginings were of real paintings by an artist who worked in New York in the early 60s.
Pauline Boty made a big splash in the art world with her pop-art innovations, but fell out of attention when she died young and most of her works were lost for a long time in family basements and sheds.
I put a few examples here if your curiosity must be slaked: I like the warm heart and designs behind this portrait of Monroe as a sort of wallpaper, which bears obvious similarities to Warhol: This includes the photo below of her painting of Christine Keeler, who raised security issues by carrying on affairs at the same time with British Minister of Defense Profumo and a Russian spy. Scandal 63 Smith summarizes how Boty embraced pop-art: Pop art revels in, is excited by and transfigures the throwaway.
People need them, and the myths that surround them, because their own lives are enriched by them. Pop art colours those myths. It is possible, he said, to be in love not with someone but with their eyes. But coldness was shifting all through her body, wiping her into a clarity much like a soapy window by a window cleaner from top to base with a rubber blade.
But, of course, memory and responsibility are strangers. Memory always goes its own way regardless. Somehow I gather it has to do with the re-purposing of what has been imagined and created before by others. And that maybe that has to do with transformative powers of memory to collapse time and boundaries between people. I am not sure.
In the end this is a pretty joyful tale to hold up against the ugliness of the world groaning under a wave of hateful populist nationalism. I look forward to others in Smith's linked series on a seasonal theme. This book was provided by the publisher for review through the Netgalley program.
Oct 25, Paul Fulcher rated it really liked it Shelves: Shortlisted for the Booker and it would be a wonderfully worthy winner - and the novel has aged better than I had predicted - if anything as the written-as-you-read-it Brexit autumn leaves have faded, the evergreen parts of the text show through.
Pauline Boty with her, now lost, painting Scandal 63 based on a variation of the famous Christine Keeler photographic portrait by Lewis Morley. For my full review of Autumn please see the excellent Mookse and Gripes blog to which this review is Update: For my full review of Autumn please see the excellent Mookse and Gripes blog to which this review is my first contribution. Postscript to my own review: Books don't have anything in them about the present, only the past and the future. This is one of the biggest defects of books.
Someone should invent a book that tells you what's happening at this moment, as you read. Autumn was a partial attempt to do something like that. It also came with a distinctive feature: The ability of her publishers to accommodate this unusual request so quickly inspired Smith to adapt Autumn, a novel long-planned as the first in a quartet on the seasons, to incorporate the emerging events.
Her publishers have certainly delivered with the physical book. The hardback cover is a rich autumnal reddish-brown and comes with a wrap-around of Early November Tunnel by David Hockney.
Tackled now, the reader experiences the present day world of the novel as he or she reads it, both current affairs and the changing of the seasons. On the warm days it feels wrong, so many leaves falling. But the nights are cool to cold. The novel takes us back through the history of their unusual friendship. Renowed for her stunning beauty, her artistic contribution was often overlooked.
A write up of her work in Scene magazine in November , intended to be supportive, read: Actresses often have tiny brains. Painters often have large beards. Elisabeth as a fictional character, and Ali Smith as the author, play an important role in bringing her back to our attention. The word gymkhana, Daniel said, is a wonderful word, a word grown from several languages. They do, Daniel said.
Words are themselves organisms, Daniel said. Oregano-isms, Elisabeth said. Herbal and verbal, Daniel said. The Brexit vote itself at times feels a little shoe-horned in. It is most memorably captured in an extended chapter, of which a brief part reads: All across the country, people looked up Google: All across the country people looked up Google move to Scotland.
All across the country, people looked up Google Irish passport applications. All across the country, people called each other cunts. All across the country, people felt unsafe. All across the country, people felt legitimised. All across the country, people felt bereaved and sick.
But throughout the present day parts of the story, the shadow of the vote hovers. This is a lengthy review because Smith has packed a lot in what is actually quite a short novel.
At one point, Elisabeth finds her mind drifting over various images from the preceding days: She wonders if she can pull this together: The painted flowers. Put it together and what have you got? Anything useful? Smith has taken her original idea of an Autumnal novel, her discovery of the life and artwork of Pauline Boty, her research into the Profumo scandal, and the current events around Brexit, and put them together in a slightly uneasy mix.
A man shot her dead and came at her with a knife. That very effect highlights one key weakness of the novel. The novel is so much based on its time and place I wonder how it will age and travel.
While the wider social forces behind the Brexit vote would certainly resonate, e. Highly recommended, but best read while its colours blaze. I love the word quotidian and it has to do with the following quote from the book: Here's and old story so new that it's still in the middle of happening. Writing itself right now with no knowledge of where or how it'll end. To me, this is the essence of this literary work. Time travel is real, Daniel said. And that's what makes us all quotidian beings, writing our own histories while reading other's stories.
We're all in this time capsule I love the word quotidian and it has to do with the following quote from the book: We're all in this time capsule, on a slow boat to nowhere, since we do not know what our next memories will be, or where our own stories will end. Daniel, or Mr. Gluck is introduced to the reader where he lies on the beach, naked, not knowing if he's dead or young again. From there his memories enter his bubble of transitional existence where he is already connecting with the future life after life, while still being connected to the reality of the Maltings Care Providers plc where his one-hundred-and-one-year-old body is taken care of, and where 32 year-old Elisabeth Demand or de Monde -"from the world" , as Daniel explained it visits him regularly.
The old man and young girl met in when Elisabeth was eight years old and he moved into the house next door. They both reminiscent about their lives, while he is sleeping, longer periods at a time, and she sits next to his bed, reading.
A smile in her experience with Post Office burocracy, a melancholy in her research for her dissertation of the life of Pop artist Pauline Boty. By studying the life of this artist, she comes to terms with her own rebelliousness so similar to that of Boty. Pauline Boty is also the connection between Elisabeth and Daniel. He collected Boty's art.
He loved arty art. He taught Elisabeth to approach life from a different angle than the mundane. With the appearance of Daniel, and with him, Boty, in her life, she no longer felt ignored, faceless, forgotten.
She was Boty in the making, without the tragic ending, thanks to Daniel. By studying Boty, she was studying herself, and continued life where Boty left off. Her mother is her life as well as caregiver, her protector, but not her role model while she grew up. Her father doesn't have a face. Through the plot the mother-daughter relationship is slowly changing as Elisabeth's insight into quotidian existentialism increases.
Friendship becomes possible. Love is clinical, except where Daniel is concerned. She understands the cycles of life, and the role of leaves and Daniel in her own story.
There's no callousness in this first post-Brexit tale. Not exactly. No technicolor love lost. No need. No want. Postmodernist feminism at perfect play. However, it's deeply moving tale.
Intense, a few moments in history condensed. A philosophical travel through the continuance of time. Some stories have no beginning and no ending. It's just Oct 15, Gill rated it it was amazing Shelves: December I re-read this at the start of December and still think about it. I've upgraded it to 5 stars. Ostensibly it is the story of the friendship between a young woman and an elderly man, that started when the young woman was a child. But there are layers behi December I re-read this at the start of December and still think about it.
But there are layers behind layers behind layers.
Smith has skilfully developed a storyline which is both set at a very specific point in time i. Ali Smith is a very astute writer. The scene early on, in the post office, was amusing in its terrible accuracy. Smith has a kind of irrepressible sense of joy. Impressionistic and deeply personal. American readers ought to be better acquainted with her genius. This ambitious four-novel sequence will end with summer and Smith in her element. If we are all very lucky, perhaps the world will catch up with her there, too.
A cycle is unfolding: winter seems to lie ahead. But in inverse proportion to defeat is the great pleasure of the reading. I can think of few writers—Virginia Woolf is one, James Salter another—so able to propel a narrative through voice alone. Autumn is clever and invigorating. The promise of three more books to come is something to be savored. Long may she Remain that way. If the first instalment is anything to go by, the series is destined to become a canon classic.
That Smith has done so with such impressive sleight of hand, and with such expediency, is incredible. Smith is convincing as both a year-old girl proud of her new rollerblades and a man living in a care home.