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Artful by Ali Smith
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Artful (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Ali Smith

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87None137,689 (4.04)3
Member:DoraD
Title:Artful
Authors:Ali Smith
Info:Penguin Press HC, The (2013), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Artful by Ali Smith (2012)

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Smith is a genius and her essays/talks on time, on form, on edge, on offer and on reflection but also a love story sent me immediately to buy the book as I handed in my library copy. Starting right off, she quotes Dickens from an old orange Penguin edition of Oliver Twist, then the myth of Achilles, Alice in Wonderland,The Golden Bowl, Jane Austen from an obscure title Jack & Alice. Ozi e vizi a Pammydiddle which I can only find on here in Italian, Walter Benjamin,Joseph Conrad,José Saramago. I can't stop. I'm scurrying all over the house looking for copies of every book mentioned, placing library orders,expanding my swollen To Read list like the crazy bibliophile and avid poetry reader I answer to. Who is Gordon Mackay Brown? GR doesn't know but I must find out. And I haven't even touched on her exquisite prose and wonderful mind, linking literature, art, movies, music. It is all here. ( )
  featherbooks | Mar 8, 2014 |
Artful is the best book I have read this year, and I have read some great books. It's brilliant: inventive, funny, original and exhilarating. A fiction wrapped around lectures on literature, Artful had its genesis in a series of lectures Smith delivered. But note that her actual presentation didn't consist just of the lecture sections, but in fact, the whole story, including the fictional framework.

If it sounds confusing, I suppose it might be, and Smith probably isn't for everyone. As I read Smith's most recent two books, I have imagined this is what Virginia Woolf's contemporaries must have felt reading her. If you like Woolf, and you like W.G. Sebald, read Ali Smith. ( )
1 vote Laura400 | May 13, 2013 |
The blurring of fiction and non-fiction in this book is expertly done. The heady quality of the prose, certainly artfully deceptive at times, pulls the reader in to the world of what it is like to be a writer and live with the characters you create, and the character of yourself that you have to create in order to survive, mentally, as a writer. A book to return to again and again. ( )
1 vote DoraD | Jan 3, 2013 |
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And maybe in the end that's what the book really is: a seductive and compelling case for the power of the imagination. Or – to go back to Dickens – a gorgeous and artfully dodging work of "shifting possibility". Or, in the words of Katherine Mansfield who, on finishing DH Lawrence's Aaron's Rod, compared it to a tree "firmly planted, deep thrusting, outspread, growing grandly, alive in every twig. All the time I read this book I felt it was feeding me." Back to trees, then, a perfect leitmotif for the unstoppable nourishment of literature. And there is food and substance in this wonderful, deeply original book.
 
Artful is a gift from Ali Smith to her reader. It's a book no one else could have written, or would have. Smith has a critic's eye, but fills her book with the novelist's art, and the novelist's heart. Time to read it again now.
 
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Epigraph
Don't try to hold on to the wave
That's breaking against your foot: so long as
You stand in the stream of fresh waves
will always keep breaking against it

Bertolt Brecht
translated by Gerhard Nelhaus
Dedication
for Xandra Bingley
Emma Wilson
and Sarah Wood
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Presents a meditative collection of writings on the nature of art and storytelling and incorporates tribute elements to iconic writers and artists throughout history.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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