I’ve read a number of Smith’s books and enjoyed most of them. I especially enjoyed Hotel World, and How to Be Both but wasn’t too fond of The Accidental – although it was okay. I actually read this about 4 or 5 days ago but didn’t get the post up.
This one is funny and sad at the same time – it’s just lovable for the humanity of it. It’s also a bit scary for the reality.
by Ali Smith (Scotland)
2016 / 272 pages
read by Melody Grove / 5h 27m
Rating: 9 / contemp fiction
(both read and listened)
** first of a seasonal quartet **
Daniel Gluck, a very old man, over 100 years, is dying. His much younger but very good friend Elisabeth Demand goes to visit him. The two have been friends for a long time – since her childhood. He taught her a lot about art and life and reality and time. He had a very interesting life but he’s often in a semi-coma-like state, not really dealing with the present, and dying.
Elisabeth has a hard time even getting to see Daniel because she’s not a relative and she doesn’t have proper ID (and that’s a whole funny story having to do with today’s real world right up through Brexit). But she does get in and spends many evenings reading to him while he remembers things. Elisabeth remembers some things with him – yes – Smith is different that way. They are family essentially – truly loving each other – she calls him her grandfather.
Time is porous when you are in a dreamlike semi-coma and Daniel’s time floats here and there – nonlinear. Smith does this very well, it’s fascinating.
During his lifetime Gluck was an art critic and Elisabeth becomes an art historian/professor. They both study the works of one Pauline Boty who worked in collage. Her mother collects “collectables” while the racism of Brexit rages and Daniel finds peace with Lisabeth. It’s really a beautiful book – Smith is a wondrous writer – luminous, if I might use that cliched expression. The book is just for the love of it – if you have time –