Friday, July 10, 2009


Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 208
Format : Fiction Anthology
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

Twelve short stories are collected here by Scottish author Ali Smith. Rather than go through all of them I will just mention a few that really caught my imagination. Being Quick is a strange story were Death is seen at a Kings Cross train station. The narrator switches between the person who saw Death and their partner at home and you are unsure reading the tale if one will die or is dead. Very unsettling and complicate yet so very simple.

May is a tale of someone who falls in love with a tree. Again the tale is told from two narrators perspective giving both sides of the story. Believe Me is a tale of two lovers lying in bed together claiming they are sharing the same man. It is unclear if they are both teasing the other or speaking the truth. The Heart of the Story follows three drunk women who go to a church for midnight mass to wamr up. After being thrown out two leave to get a taxi and it is implied the youngest is homeless. The Start of Things tells the story of a breakup and how it began.

There are definite themes running through the tales which leads to a sense of cohensiveness. Many are to do with relationships and also nature (in particular trees). Ali also often switches narrative throughout the stories giving different perspectives which she is particularly adept at. She plays the pronoun game a lot not specifying whether her narrators are male or female which led me to check her sexuality. It was no surprise to find out she is a lesbian which means her tales are unspecific as to whether her characters were straight or in gay relationships which was interesting. I liked the ambiguity and it makes each tale read slightly differently depending on your assumptions so you get more than one story per reading!

1 comments:

Nymeth said...

The pronouns thing made me curious! I've only read a few of her stories and she didn't do that in those, though several were about same-sex couples. Anyway, I really love her writing, so I'll have to pick this up at some point.