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There But For The There But For The Is The Sparkling Satirical Novel By Bestselling Ali Smith There Once Was A Man Who, One Night Between The Main Course And The Sweet At A Dinner Party, Went Upstairs And Locked Himself In One Of The Bedrooms Of The House Of The People Who Were Giving The Dinner Party As Time Passes By And The Consequences Of This Stranger S Actions Ripple Outwards, Touching The Owners, The Guests, The Neighbours And The Whole Country, So Ali Smith Draws Us Into A Beautiful, Strange Place Where Everyone Is So Much Than They At First Appear There But For The Was Hailed As One Of The Best Books Of By Jeanette Winterson, AS Byatt, Patrick Ness, Sebastian Barry, Boyd Tonkin, Erica Wagner And Nick Barley Dazzlingly Inventive AS Byatt Whimsically Devastating Playful, Humorous, Serious, Profoundly Clever And Profoundly Affecting Guardian A Real Gem Erica Wagner, The Times Eccentric, Adventurous, Intoxicating, Dazzling This Is A Novel With Serious Ambitions That Remains Huge Fun To Read Literary Review If You Liked Smith S Earlier Fiction, You Will Know That She Enjoys Setting Up A Situation Before Chucking In A Literary Molotov Cocktail Then Describing What Happens Sunday Express Wonderful, Word Playful, Compelling Jeanette Winterson Smith Can Make Anything Happen, Which Is Why She Is One Of Our Most Exciting Writers Today Daily Telegraph I Take My Hat Off To Ali Smith Her Writing Lifts The Soul Evening Standard

  • Hardcover
  • 357 pages
  • There But For The
  • Ali Smith
  • English
  • 10 July 2018
  • 9780241143407

About the Author: Ali Smith

Ali Smith is a writer, born in Inverness, Scotland, to working class parents She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D that was never finished In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and how it for



10 thoughts on “There But For The

  1. says:

    floating this to irritate the person who irritated me with her comment i did this book a great disservice.at first, i plowed through it like a maniac, loving every minute of it then, i put it down for about two days and totally lost my momentum, and when i returned, the shine was off the apple completely my fault.it has been nearly a week since i have written a book review, and this feels like a less than triumphant return, but it is fitting i need to be punished for my weekend hedonism and non book reading self for shame allow me the indulgence of an extended quote, because it is something i really liked and it reminded me, thematically at least, of infinite jest he thinks about the couple of times he s brought himself off by watching the free porn on the net two men on the steps of a blue swimming pool, three men dressed as soldiers in a toilet both times he had to go in search of something else on there afterwards to make himself feel less degraded the second time he had simply typed something beautiful into the google images box up came a picture of some leaves against the sun a picture of a blonde photoshop smooth woman and baby sleeping a picture of a bird a picture of mother teresa a picture of a modernist building made of shiny metal a picture of two people sticking knives into their own hands google is so strange it promises everything, but everything isn t there you type in the words for what you need, and what you need becomes superfluous in an instant, shadowed instantaneously by the things you really need, and none of them answerable by google he surveys the strewn table sure, there s a certain charm to being able to look up and watch eartha kitt singing old fashioned millionaire in 1957 at three in the morning or hayley mills singing a song about femininity from an old disney film but the charm is a kind of deception about a whole new way of feeling lonely, a semblance of plenitude but really a new level of dante s inferno, a zombie filled cemetery of spurious clues, beauty, pathos, pain, the faces of puppies, women and men from all over the world tied up and wanked over in site after site, a greater sea of hidden shallows and , the pressing human dilemma how to walk a clean path between obscenitiesi truly loved the first two thirds of this book the dinner party is such a hilarious, uncomfortable, frustrating thing to endure, even only as a reader of it i never never want to go to a dinner party that is actually like that they are the worst collection of human beings ever most of them.and the part that covers anna and milo s first meeting is tender and beautiful and memorable, and i fell in love with both of them completely.but the problem with putting this book down is that the narrative perspective changes and any pause is going to ruin the flow, much less a two day pause with a bleary eyed foggy return, where you are immersed in a whole new POV and wondering where all your character friends have gone, and then wondering where you lost an earring in your travels it should have a higher rating from me, really, just for the character of brooke the only hyper hyper precocious child character i have ever liked the book is worth reading just for her interactions with her parents the fact that i never wanted to throttle her proves smith s skill as a writer but alas i was a terrible reader of this book i give the first 2 3 of the book 5 stars, and i give myself 1 star, and that averages out to three stars.will do better tomorrow.come to my blog

  2. says:

    Reviewed in February 2013There is no doubt in my mind that Ali Smith is a fine writer, a reader s writer, maybe even a writer s writer, although I suspect there are writers out there who think she makes it all look as easy as an unmade bed There you go, people differ hugely in what they rate as interesting or significant, but whatever kind of writer Smith is, she s definitely my kind, and for the long term There will be, I hope, many of her books to enjoy since she is one of the rare woman writers I admire who is younger than I am There s a positive thought There is profit to be found in the oddest places if only we look for it.But what is this book about, you ask, with a title like that There but for the..what But for the accidents of birth and death, the accidents of time and place, me here, you there, me now, you then, the inhumanity of man towards his fellow, all of the terrible things which, because they happen to you, can t happen to me There but for the grace of God go I, as my parents generation used to remark, in a kind of incantatory and consolatory refrain whenever they were faced with tragedy happening to other people But the book is also about the fact that none of that matters in the end since in spite of the average reader s better rather than worse life circumstances, in spite of our living in peace times rather than in war times, or hunger times, or pestilential times, or disappeared times, in spite of the advances in technology we enjoy, in spite of life, there is always and only death There but fornothing, we all will die That s how I interpreted the title But the title viewed as a whole is only part of what s going on here Smith wants us to view it in sections too There But For The And the sections serve to reveal the whole The sections allow many interesting things to happen,, many big themes to be thrashed out For this book is about happenings and there is certainly a lot happening bad things, sad things but sometimes miraculously brave things too Some of the characters make things happen, others are acted upon in a kind of parallel with the artist spectator relationship Smith is the artist, manipulating events so that we, the readers, are caught up in the spectacle To paraphrase herself, Smith catches us at exactly the moment of letting us go, she defies belief and then shows us that we were wrong ever to doubt her For with Smith, we laugh until we cry and then we cry until we laugh again The really funny thing is that I m reading Proust at the moment and I can t help noticing the similar themes which emerge in these radically different books The action of this book takes place mostly in Greenwich and one of the major themes is Time There but for the is, in its own way, a search for lost time And once I d noticed this initial parallel with Proust, I found and convergences between the two books, and was pleased when Smith briefly mentions Proust, along with Joyce, near the end The narrative of this novel takes us through forgotten time, remembered time, fugitive time, historical time, chronological time, dream time The journey through time, just as in Proust, is enabled partly by music and song lyrics, partly through references to the performances of great artists of the past Gracie Fields in one, Sarah Bernhardt in the other, rhyming couplets in one, alexandrine verse in the other Mother obsessions in both, a precocious child in both and always, always, time passing, history happening.

  3. says:

    There might have been other ways to write this book, perhaps Siri Hustvedt, for instance, would have made all the disparate perspectives mirror an overarching preoccupation with the self, nearly indistinguishable from each other in terms of their pedantic, self righteous theorizings She would have hurled fact after fact which lead up to some grandiose declaration, impatient to broadcast the breadth and depth of her scholastic achievements, her research A character s whiteness, blackness, womanliness or gayness would have subsumed his her individuality, and counted as a prime factor in determining their position in the narrative s schema Not exactly a Russo or Bechdel test fail but close But mercifully Ali Smith is no Hustvedt or any other writer intent on bandying about the Big Themes with no effort at subtlety She unravels her carefully arranged skein of subject, plot and narrative device in a way as to prod our internalized prejudice into emerging from its comfortable hidey hole in to the clear light of day Busted aren t we How many of you visualized Brooke as a white yuppie offspring, golden bangs falling across her forehead, rosy cheeks flushed with delight, till she is revealed as a Brooke Bayoude Pat yourself on the back if you didn t Because it is simple enough to presuppose whiteness whenever a precocious child of sunny disposition is spoken of The Scout Finches of the world are easily conjured up by memory and awareness And Smith shines the light on this sad revelation What would happen if you did just shut a door and stop speaking Hour after hour after hour of no words Would you speak to yourself Would words just stop being useful Would you lose language altogether Or would words mean , would they start to mean in every direction, all somersault and assault, like a thuggery of fireworks Would they proliferate, like untended plantlife Would the inside of your head overgrow with every word that has ever come into it, every word that has ever silently taken seed or fallen dormant What else does she manage, you ask Create small moments of such profound tenderness that they knock the breath out of you without ever being glibly sentimental Call into question our complicity in the perpetually recurring small injustices normalized by the system Lovingly dissect the fact of language and art and history wound around each other to produce this layered narrative of our reality Us and them, you and I, spread out across divides of time and place, engaged in our quiet, quotidian struggles to rise above our worst failings, but converging at some point in a then or a now which may mean nothing in the greater scheme of things but does, all the same Lost time that can never be regained The wonderful, beautiful, terrible then of friendship and motherhood and tenuous bonds between new acquaintances, random strangers which fades in and out of consciousness, edging closer to oblivion with every passing second but somehow surviving in the end Much like hope, much like love, much like life What else can a reader want

  4. says:

    Will you remember me in a months time Yes.Will you remember me in 6 months time Yes.Will you remember me in a years time Yes.Will you remember me in 2 years time Yes.Will you remember me in 3 years time Yes.Knock knock.Who s there See, you ve forgotten me already.I used to work at a video store in college It was a small mom and pop shop, and it was a great place to work Since it was such a small operation, there were only a handful of other employees and I knew everyone pretty well So you can imagine my surprise when a former co worker and I were conversing about the old days, and she brought up a person who worked there that I had completely forgotten about And when I say completely forgotten about, I don t mean like someone I hadn t thought about much in the intervening years, how are they doing these days I mean like, I completely forgot this person existed This is a person I saw three or four times a week for something like a year or , and I completely forgot they existed And I m not even 30.But that s life, right How many times have you promised to stay in touch with an old co worker or a friend who was moving away, and you do, for a little while But then the time between emails lags a little , and a little , and then they stop coming at all, and then you find yourself 10 years down the road realizing you have completely forgotten this person We re constantly creating new experiences, meeting new people, making new memories, and there s only so much room in our brains Sometimes things get pushed aside, even things that we really appreciated in the moment At the same time, there are other things we wish we could push aside and forget about forever, banish to a graveyard with all those old co workers and classmates, yet, no matter how hard we try, we just can t forget.That s what There But For The is about Ostensibly it s about a man who, during a dinner party, locks himself in a guest room and doesn t come out for months But really, it s about relationships, and they way we simultaneously hold onto some so tightly, while letting others slip through our fingers without giving it a second thought The central character, Miles Garth, is seen only through the periphery of four characters who have gotten to know him in some limited capacity over the course of his life, and his sweetly tragic personality is doled out in bits and pieces He is almost a subdued, British version of Salinger s doomed hero Seymour Glass, due to his coy, unassuming nature and his preference to interact with children than adults, an answer to the premature loss of his own childhood The four characters whose past interaction with Miles make up the story are each sweet but tragic in their own way, as I would guess all of us are to some extent We ve all had dead loved ones, or been picked on by peers or, worse, supposed mentors , or dead end jobs, or other small, personal tragedies that make us human We all get on just fine, thank you, but it does leave a sadness, lingering just below that surface, that perhaps we can t quite put our fingers on But sometimes, like a long forgotten friend, it comes bursting to the surface, and we can t help but be overcome by it At times like those, we all just want to go into our own little 5x7 room and stay there until we re ready to face the world again And that s what this book is about.

  5. says:

    I hate to resort to crude Americanisms, but Ali Smith is the motherfucking BOMB Her latest novel, circa October 2011, shares a structure all but identical to The Accidental four sections with little one two page prefaces but also shares its masterful grasp over narrative voice, language, style, humour, and subtly heartbreaking strangeness.The title refers to the first word in a significant phrase deployed in each section of the novel For example, in the first part There I was is used when the character Anna is speaking to someone about journalism which can be summed up in six words I was there, there I was , and later The fact is is used by precocious child Brooke for her little book of facts These words and their significance within the narrative allude to the book s questions of representation and presentation, both in a literary sense, and in broader notions of reality.The novel s four strands revolve around an opaque stranger named Miles who attends a dinner party and locks himself inside his host s spare room, thenceforth refusing to budge The reasons behind Miles s motivation are never made clear, and the event is merely a pull for the four protagonists, each rendered in a breathtaking close third person style that demonstrates the truly balletic skill Smith has with language At the heart of this book and it seems a lot of her work is a fascination with storytelling itself and how language distorts and enriches our understanding of life in equal measures, and how baffling and wonderful words can be, whether their meanings are monstrous or delightful.The novel plays elaborate games with chronology in frequent bracketed sections the structural design of which eludes me but There but for the is another lovingly designed work of art, bordering on masterpiece, from my newly crowned Favourite Ever Scottish Writer.

  6. says:

    I m going to start ignoring ratings Not stop using them, but ignore them, for there is my own and then there are others and neither should have anything to do with the other, really Humanity gets me but it s the humans that get me in two senses of the word that both don t directly point out the to get in to get I got this book, someone got my money, somewhere together we re getting.I thought this book would be harder I thought I would have trouble I thought I wouldn t be reading Women and Men at the time or wouldn t have read all those assonant kerfuffles of hardback and paper so akin, so keep in mind my interest in things like these if you re looking for a similar touch This book is clean, this book is crisp, and it ll call you and cut you in ways usually preserved in the classics and canon and everything written before what I m living now It wears one down when the crowded consensus crows that contemporary literature hasn t a prayer in these heretical times with no dead white males still kicking like it s Manifest Destiny in the fog of a PoMoic puff, so pardon my invoking of a catechism of kiddy past Catholicism, but this book is a cross, and these are the demons.The heart of them is this best of all possible worlds complex, this sell your soul for your comforts sake sing along and nobody cares People talk of crap literature today and perhaps it s different across the water, it sure looks different when authors like Ali Smith can write this and be respected for it and perhaps not have to worry so much about debt, and socioeconomic machines, and the fact is the face of US literature is being beaten to a pulp by derision, starvation, and shame Show me a way that any and all authors of quality will be enabled to live without careers or inheritance or windfall propelling them out of the silence at odd and jangled times in this country of mine, and I ll show you hope.People talk of references as if embarrassed by signs of the world they live in, a world of Millennials making do because they can t follow the pre privacy pre privitization pre pricing of the commons and of faith You make software engineering the most fertile career, you idolize the Apple and its shiny China factories, you incorporate every digital nitpick into a monstrosity of finance and political machinations and ignore the average age of all these causes in favor of the burgeoning generation to come, but wait No politics either, remember Or religion, but seeing as how that last paragraph blew the sentiment to shreds, we ll just have to accept the fact is we are living in a war where following the latest sensationalized third world tragedy from the corner and being grateful for your relative privilege and spankin new drones does not make you a better person It makes you free to be exactly as you re told to be, consumerism guaranteed and intellectualism too so long as it s the right type of ideology so long as you are, too.Loving this book means knowing the dystopia and how multimillion dollar the begging and pleading to differ in front of the young ones currently is Loving this book means not blaming the young ones for this they are given, for none of you had a childhood with you in control Loving this book means effort living and pride self worth and a certain measure of who gives a fuck if you like thinking outside of the boundaries of sports and business and screaming your sincerity to the world Loving this book means recognizing how to characterize people of color by the color blindness in both sight and historical underpinnings of present day context, how to sit down with your week long emptiness and say hello, how to feel fear at the thought of not tamping down your natural extremities of thoughts and feels and facing the ever resulting scorn and even worse the lack Loving this book makes you stone cold in the being of the very few, and knowing that it is worth it Loving this book means knowing you have my trust to not need the usual namedrops, for this is not a quickfix direction to your next compatible guarantee Loving this book might mean hating the Internet, but I don t Loving this book does not mean hating the word pretentious in full knowledge of its reality wide ramifications, but I wish it did There but for the instant we feel it worth living here s to chasing it now and anon.

  7. says:

    There But For The is stylized, literary fiction It makes extensive use of wordplay emails stories headlines text messagesconversationslyrics handwritten notes allegory symbols The fact is, imagine a man sitting on an exercise bike in a spare room He s a pretty ordinary man except that across his eyes and also across his mouth it looks like he s wearing letterbox flaps Look closer and his eyes and mouth are both separately covered by little grey rectangles They re like the censorship strips that newspapers and magazines would put across people s eyes in the old days before they could digitally fuzz up or pixellate a face to block the identity of the person whose face it is.Library data 1 Middle aged men Fiction 2 Personal space Fiction.3 Social interaction Fiction 4 Dinners and dining Fiction.5 Greenwich London, England 6 Identity Psychology Fiction.7 Psychological fiction.8 Eyes blinded, dead, live, terrified, laughing, failing, rabbit s, foul little bloody little black stitches.9 Children bright, charming, unthreatening, polite, old fashioned Fiction.10 Prisoners freedom, security, democracy, human rights.11 Music Also puns knock knock jokes clich s limericks rhyming riddles.12 Objects paper, pencil, Moleskine, bike, iPod, mobile phone, clock, door, window, Montgolfier balloon.13 Cult sainthood, Satyagraha, media, Anubis, St Alfege, the eye of that rabbit.The chapter headings EpigraphThe fact isTHEREThere was onceBUTBut my dear Mark FORFor 29 JanuaryTHEThe Epigraph s The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one s love upon other human individuals George OrwellFor only he who lives his life as a mystery is truly alive Stefan ZweigI hate mystery Katherine MansfieldOf longitudes, what other way have we, But to mark when and where the dark eclipses be John DonneEvery wink of an eye some new grace will be born William ShakespeareMy own suggestion for an epigraph Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance If the individual so resisted be of a not inhumane temper, and the resisting one perfectly harmless in his passivity then, in the better moods of the former, he will endeavor charitably to construe to his imagination what proves impossible to be solved by his judgment Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville She unfolds the piece of paper in her hands and she reads again the story written on it.yes I did Yes.

  8. says:

    I bought this for the princely sum of 99p which is just under 1.30 in real money It was a brand spanking new hardback original retail price 16.99 for sale in my local Oxfam shop What is going on I thought, using inverted commas All these used skronky paperbacks are for 2 and 3 and here are a shelf of brand new hardbacks seemingly untouched by human hand for 99p The world has gone mad As it happens my daughter recently began volunteering in shops just like this one, so I asked her what this crazy pricing policy was all about and the answer was nobody wants hardbacks And the reason for that is they re the wrong shape.So there you are Fans of modern literature, get over your sizeist prejudices and grab up these bumper bargains at your local charity shops I thought I would give Ali Smith another go, as years ago I hated Hotel World but since then it s become apparent she is beloved by all, so I thought it was just conceivably possible I might have been wrong But this novel came apart in my hands as I was reading No, not literally, but that did once happen to me when reading an old paperback of Where Angels Fear to Tread and made that experience even enjoyable as the very volume crumbled page by page due to desiccated spinal glue I hope you never suffer from a desiccated spine, it s a most undignified end, I had to dump the whole lot in the bin , I mean metaphorically, when I realized how the thing was structured because at first it was all very bonkers, gushing and whooshing this way and that, whereby this couple invite their friends for a posh dinner and one of them brings a friend and the friend of this friend simply takes himself off upstairs they think he s going to the loo and he steps inside their spare bedroom and locks himself in and refuses to come out or speak to anyone.At all.What a pickle but I realized that really that was just the big fat HOOK to hang four long shortstories upon like Tales from the Crypt does, Ali Smith is not very interested in why this guy did this bizarre act sowe can therefore file Miles the Guy in the Spare Room next to Norah Winters from Carol Shields Unless who sits around on a pavement holding up a sign saying GOODNESS much to the complete horror of her mother or Merry Levov, another radical daughter, in American Pastoral who bombs the local post office or maybe specifically the big KAHUNA of all of these random acts of defiance BARTLEBY THE SCRIVENER by Herman Melville who decides to stop working at his office but refuses to leave and the only thing he ever says is I prefer not to So we can dismiss Miles, he is a DEVICE A kind of vague sympathetic space in the novel The four stories are really four character portraits The first one is okay, that sets the whole scene, and the second one is almost brilliant, because it contains a demonically accurate 50 page account of a posh English dinner party where middle class artsy and brainy types verbally skirmish and get drunker and drunker This is the best satirical dinner party since The Dinner by Herman Koch and before that Abigail s Party, a film by Mike Leigh All of these dinner parties make you squirm to your very bowels and swear you will never never ever go to another one even if Stephen Fry personally comes around and begs you to At these dinner parties people use language to do to each other what Hannibal Lecter does literally at his So writers and film makers like dinner parties Writers also like old people rambling on and precocious children, a lot, and these two we get in the last 2 stories Old ladies in various states of mental disrepair feistiness to taste can be found in BS Johnson House Mother Normal, Kathleen Rooney Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Bernice Rubens A Five Year Sentence, Alan Bennett The Lady in the Van and you don t have to look far for many others Precocious children are all over the place surely the worst is Safran Foer s nerve shattering Incredibly Boring and Extremely Long, another bad one is Reif Larsen The Rancid Young Loudmouth TS Spivet and all the Glass Family stories by JD Salinger which are actually good There But For The is but therefore the accumulation of four or five of the favourite things writers like to write about Not for them raindrops on roses and whiskers on noodles, they like 50 page monologues by bright as a button ten year olds and terminal old women with bowels Ah yes, Brooke the Ten Year Old does not just monologue, she also has fantastically arch conversations with her parents like this her father asks her What are you writing about, spawn of Terence Bayoude It s about a man in a room who stays in the room and never leaves it but in that room he has, like, a bicycle, and he cycles three thousand miles on it, Brooke said What a turn of the century sounding story, her father said Like Mr Garth Her mother said Sounds Kafkaesque to me than fin de si cle Fin de cycle Her father said This kid has got no chance This is how her parents roll Your mother and I were having an intellectual discussion last night about turn of the century manhood, her father said It was because your father was annoyed that I was watching a film called Ronin on TV and that I wouldn t put it off and come to bed, her mother said and when I said that I would tell all her students and work colleagues and employers that she prefers, as examples of turn of the century manhood, Arnold Schwartzeneggar and Al Pacino to Proust s Swann and Joyce s Bloom, she got quite violent with he and even started hitting me quite hard in the chest area, her father saidSo, to sum up hey, I only paid 99p

  9. says:

    Life as lived, As Perros turn of century multi structured prism Ali Smith is the Virginia Woolf of our times 22% Wilde satirist i.e Modernist Her brush strokes are irreverent also British in One V Solid Faulkerian Experiment Smith evokes the sensation of absorbing everything while reading about nothing she succeeds in immersing us fully in her deviations from standard plot or character but remaining faithful to tropes, like the man hidden within the house, the sensitive visionary, the reminder of sin, ie precocious imp child etc She is fantastic.

  10. says:

    THEREis no there there, Gertrude Stein famously wrote in 1937, a sentence that loops back on itself in order to question its own grammar Maybe what she meant was that the first there has no antecedent But the sentence also pushes out, questions the world, questions the idea of a place in time, a time in place, that exists only because it is not here, relatively speaking.This novel has a similar trajectory Broken down into four sections titled There, But, For, and The, it tells an abstract story that questions the meaning of those words Which may seem slight at first Duh , except it s not Like the puns that the child Brooke is obsessed with, the book convinces us that semantics matter, words matter And what seems an unlikely story about a man who s locked himself into a room is really a story about how we label our world Which is really a story about how we think about the world Which is really about if we can even think about the world or know it.Because a pun is basically a mislabelling that creates pleasure A misnomer And this book has many Brooke becomes broke Miles becomes Milo Gen becomes Jan Anna Hardie becomes Anna K And like a good pun, this book is playful and gives pleasure It is funny,BUTnot in a ha ha way More in an aha way There is always a but, isn t there Actually there are many buts Time and place, memory, history, a rhyme that jogs the memory into thinking of a time and place where a man jogs in place, or does he ride in place, on an exercise bike , the ostensible seemingness of things versus The Fact Is of things, these were all seamlessly seemlessly weaved into the prose with great skill Butthen there were things that made me roll my eyes cell phones, CCTVs, surveillance cameras, microdrones, celebrity culture, internet porn were all conspicuously annoying in the story Yes, these are important things to think about, but do we really need to be reminded of the obvious Duh Come to think of it, have any of these things ever made it into a novel that wasn t trying to show me the shallowness of modern life I felt like Don DeLillo was breathing down my back Andthough I loved the first two sections, the last two felt weaker, in the voice of the elderly Mrs Young and the young girl y Brooke broke Bayoude Brooke was tolerable, adorable even, when she would only be precociously naive about something during a tense dinner conversation But being entirely in her head by the last section was too much for me I got annoyed ButI do like the idea of them Maybe Smith is suggesting that when our collective language breaks down, when we can t name things as they are any but only as they seem, when language is broken , that somehow it is most alive, and most alive to those who themselves are broken , or superfluous to society, the very old and the very young Because language, in the normal world, isFORsomething a purpose Communication or business or banter And when it is functioning it is functional and boring Like a machine You re either for us or against us Zeroes and or ones.Old Mrs Young couldn t talk at first But when she was finally able to, the words that came out of her resembled involuntary movements she couldn t control Like her bladder Animal utterances Muscle memory Phrases she knew but didn t mean to say Like a bird who repeats things that she doesn t understand But her age is an asset The leaving of life, when it came, might well be accompanied by a different seeing p 142 And Brooke, the child, on the other hand, who is yet to find language functionalis also accompanied by a different seeing She sees words strangely, as a tiger cub does when batting around its first prey rather than eating it She s curious about language, about the way it works and still fresh to its odd pun like qualities Here is where language belongs Something about history and the long stretched canvas of language that is best kept by the young and the old, the ones who don t matter as much in society, the overlooked ones, the the.Thus language is made new again through puns and cleverness You get a sense that if Brooke never completely grows up, but grows older, she could become Ali Smith and write an incredibly clever book like this The way the storylines connect, the way the wordplay resonates between the sections and the themes, pretty much everything about this novel was clever But in its examination of words, the novel also examines itself, and the topic of cleverness what is cleverness for No doubt a pre emptive strike against those would be critics on Goodreads Then she asked Mr Garth did he really think there wasn t anything wrong with being cleverest Top of Mount Cleverest, Mr Garth said Brooke laughed Then Mr Garth said slowly the fact is, that at the top of any mountain you ll feel a bit dizzy because of the air up there Cleverness is great It s a really good thing, when you have it And when you know how to use your cleverness, it s not that you re the cleverest any , or are doing it to be cleverer than anyone else like it s a competition No Instead of being the clever est, the thing to do is become a clever ist i.e the becomes a, from a specificity to a generality, we lose ourselves in the collective Cleverness matters only in this regard to connect Empathy with the disenfranchised There but for the grace of God go I.THEthe, wrote Wallace Stevens at the very end of a poem That was it The the.What kind of ending is that The lack of an ending The lack of anything, but a reference to a reference The part left out of headlines, because it s implied Area Man Reads Book Writes Review The part left out is the only part that remains, for Stevens When you eat an apple, you throw away the core Man On Dump No headline has the word the in it, i.e There is no the there.Similarly There But For The has a part missing There But For The WHAT I want to ask But the answer would be Exactly What s missing is the subject of the book, the whole point of it We re not there at all because we re missing what we re missing, so we re here The book wouldn t exist if not for the missing ____ at the end of the The.So the book is about this missing piece, the story without a core, the center will not hold And by the end of it we ve whipped up a lot of cream without anything to put it on All the pieces connect, but the reader still feels empty, there is no comforting explanation for the mysteries that haunt us and that s the point Does it matter Does it make it less enjoyable My answer is no, but your Milo may vary We keep waiting for the revelation The moment of understanding, of purpose Of of course Obviously Of The Duh.

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