Tag Archives: Ali Smith

Winter

It certainly is. Here and now, but also in Ali Smith’s Winter. Although I’d almost have preferred to call it Christmas. It’s mostly set at Christmas, with flashbacks to older times, summer and winter, like we got in Autumn.

Instead of the seemingly interminable queueing for a passport application to go through, as we had in Autumn, Winter begins with Sophia visiting the optician. Unnamed, but recognisable as one of those High Street ones. I’m glad she was hard on them. But then her bank was hard on Sophia.

This wealthy – or is it formerly wealthy? – sixty-something woman, is seeing things. Even without the help of the optician. It’s a head. No body, just the head.

It’s Christmas Eve and Sophia’s thirty-something son Art is coming to stay, with his partner Charlotte. Except there is a problem. But problems can be dealt with.

There is also Sophia’s kind, but quirky, older sister Iris.

In the background we have the politics of the day, Christmas 2016. It’s only partly Brexit. Now there’s also the election of the 45th President to be concerned about. And the flood of refugees, who are not seen as human beings by our leaders. Iris cares. Sophia less so. And Art is confused. His new Charlotte is great, however, and she truly gets the Brexit conundrum.

Perhaps there is hope. I’d like to think there is.

I’m looking forward to Spring, in more ways than one.

Autumn

I have to say it! I reckon Ali Smith writes almost as well as Meg Rosoff. (Whose birthday it is today. Meg’s, not Ali’s.) It was a piece Ali wrote for the Guardian, probably just before Summer was published, that had me reach towards the buy button, and I ordered Autumn, feeling curious and actively wanting to read some literary adult fiction.

This hardly ever happens.

I felt I should start at the beginning, so Autumn it was. (Winter is already standing by.)

I really, really liked it. Elisabeth is a most interesting heroine, and her passport application is to die for. I wish I could be like her. There is a mother, who at first seemed less attractive, but who grew on me. There is a friendship with Daniel, a much older man, who was great from the start. There are many thoughts about a lot of things.

The whole book, and I say whole, but it’s admirably short, really, is full of fragments, maybe jigsaw pieces, that eventually mostly fit together. There was one piece that didn’t join up, but having cheated and read a description of a later book, I know that my feeling that it would be important, was correct.

I can’t wait.

Except I might. Winter is coming, as I said, but perhaps I will keep Spring and Summer for later. Or not. As the Resident IT Consultant says, it can be sensible to get on the train standing at the platform now. Just in case.