This is a Fictional Friday post, where I review a book (but it might not always be fiction)
I don’t get much time to read for pleasure. I mean, I enjoy reading whether or not I’m doing it for pleasure, but I don’t often get a chance to find a book I really want to read and read it, without underlining themes and significant passages all the time.
I’ve had Ali Smith‘s The Accidental for over a year, and have wanted to read it much longer than this. I had already read Hotel World and Girl Meets Boy, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Finally, I have a summer with a bit of time and no set reads (yet), so I set about reading it.
Someone once said that Virginia Woolf reinvented the sentence
If this is true, Ali Smith reinvented the reinvented sentence. You can definitely see that Smith has been inspired somewhat by Woolf, but she takes the use of brackets – to show different thing happening at the same time – to a whole other level.
The way she deal with speech is also really interesting. You’re never sure whether the ideas are those of a character, the narrator, whether their being said aloud – she really blurs the lines between character, narrator and author.
There are very few artists who make their audience – reader, viewer, subscriber – stop and consider the idea of art. Agnes Varda manages it in Sans Toi Ni Loi (or Vagabond) in filming from right to left instead of left to right, as our brains are programmed to work.
Ali Smith manages it, too, in The Accidental. She plays with the idea of plot – naming the three sections Beginning, Middle and End, and looking at the ideas of these concepts within the sections
Simply by aligning the text to the left as opposed to having it fully justified, as most novels are printed, the reader can’t help but consider the ideas of text, book and novel.
It can be somewhat frustrating – there seems to be no typesetting to the novel at all – but it also mimics the plot of the novel. A women appears in the lives of a family and causes each of them to consider what they’re doing, and to look at their lives from a different perspective. That’s what the book makes us do, also, except with the idea of writing and books.
I’m aware that I’m making it sound like a difficult read. It’s not. It’s interesting and different and unexpected in many different ways. Ali Smith manages to create a novel at once light, enjoyable, easy to read and yet actually well written.
It’s true that she seems to lose her way towards the end, but I would thoroughly recommend The Accidental to anyone who can read. (And is of a suitable age…)