Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Second Person and Other Stories

You baffle me, Ali Smith.

Loved your first novel, "Like." I wasn't fazed at all by the parallel plots. It was clear, even in the beginning, that Ash and Amy would collide, that you were colluding to put these two particles in motion. That they had a future together. Fantastic. Literary. Satisfying.

But then, I blundered into "The Accidental." I floundered in the shallows of your experimentalism. Of your stream-of-consciousness internal dialogue. Of your nonplot. Of characters who did not speak to me.

Your short stories -- "The Whole Story and Other Stories," "Other Stories and Other Stories," "The First Person and Other Stories" -- were a refuge.

Experimental in name only, they are full of your playfulness. They are, across three collections, one story. A conversation between "I" and "you." Two women, in daily life with each other, testing the boundaries of their imagination. And their affection. Every time "you" returns, I know I'm in good hands. I know I'm getting another small piece of a twenty-year affair.

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