The First Person
and Other Stories
By Ali Smith
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307377715, 224pp.)
Publication Date: January 6, 2009
List Price: $23.95*
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In these energetic, exhilarating stories, Ali Smith portrays a world of everyday dislocation, where people nevertheless find connection, mystery, and love. In “Astute Fiery Luxurious,” a misdelivered package throws the life of a couple into disarray. A boy’s unexplained illness in “I Know Something You Don’t Know” drives his mother to seek guidance from homeopathic healers, with inconclusive results. In “The Child,” an unnervingly mature young boy voices offensive humor that genteel society would rather not acknowledge. And a confident older woman meets her awkward fourteen-year-old self in “Writ” but can’t figure out how to guide her–or even whether she should.
As Smith explores the subtle links between what we know and what we feel, she creates an exuberant, masterly collection that is packed full of ideas, humor, nuance, and compassion. Ali Smith and the short story are made for each other.
Ali Smith is the author of six previous works of fiction, including the novel Hotel World, which was short-listed for both the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002, and The Accidental, which won the Whitbread Award in 2005 and was short-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and the 2006 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Her story collections include Free Love, which won a Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award, and The Whole Story and other Stories. Born in Inverness, Scotland, in 1962, Smith now lives in Cambridge, England.