Review: Artful – Ali Smith

artful-by-ali-smithI love Ali Smith, she is one of my favourite authors and this book has been one I’ve debated reading or not reading because I didn’t really know what it was.

It’s fiction. But it’s also essays. It’s a hybrid that you can’t quite distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. It doesn’t really have any one genre, it is just a mix of literary criticism, essay and fiction. But the line is fine between what is essay/lecture and what is fiction as it’s just so beautifully interwoven. Once you get over the initial confusion it is just such a pleasure to read. It is by no means easy to get over that initial feeling and it does often require a sentence (or entire passage) to be read twice.

I’ve never read the essay form before and I thought maybe this would be a good introduction to it as it’s a more gentle dip rather than a full on plunge in to the waters of the essay! I’m so glad I finally read this. There are some bits, particularly where she’s talking about trees and it was just something I had to read two or three times because it was beautiful. I think actually there were several botany interludes and it was just so seamlessly integrated, it had such poignant relevance and this book, this book.

This is definitely not the place to start with Ali Smith – the prose is beautiful (possibly some of her best) but it’s just very difficult if you’re not familiar with her general style. Ultimately though is amazing – 4/5.

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