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Girl Meets Boy (Myths) by Ali Smith
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Girl Meets Boy (Myths) (edition 2008)

by Ali Smith

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5012220,341 (3.8)37
Member:jesster
Title:Girl Meets Boy (Myths)
Authors:Ali Smith
Info:Canongate Books (2008), Paperback, 166 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:goodreads

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Girl Meets Boy : The Myth of Iphis by Ali Smith

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
The blurb of this book grabbed me, and then I opened a page, and it really didn't let me go until the end.

This is a powerful little book.

It's feminist. It has LGBTIQA characters, it's based in Ancient myth. What more do you want, really?

But in all seriousness, this is a really well-crafted book. I wish it hadn't been so sparse in places but it's lovely just to read a book about my own kind of people for once.

I would be interested in reading the rest of Smith's work, but I'll be honest, I don't think anything will top this book. I don't think anything will be able to surpass how I feel about this book.

The characters aren't always fully-developed - and I know that's part of the style, but sometimes I wish they were. It's an interesting concept because sometimes you get to see things through the characters' eyes but I would've liked a little more detail.

... that said, this is a champion of a book. I read it, and immediately passed it on to a friend.

Well done, Ali Smith. And thank you. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
"The river laughed. I swear it did. It laughed and it changed as I watched. As it changed, it stayed the same. The river was all about time, it was about how little time actually mattered. I looked at my watch. Fuck. I was an hour and a half late. Ha ha! The river laughed at me again."

Girl Meets Boy is part of the Myths series published by Canongate where authors re-tell exisitng myths and stories. Other authors in this series include Margaret Atwood, Karen Armstrong, AS Byatt, David Grossman, Milton Hatoum, Natsuo Kirino, Alexander McCall Smith, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Victor Pelevin, Su Tong, Dubravka Ugresic, Salley Vickers and Jeanette Winterson. It looks like an interesting project.

Girl Meets Boy is Smith's retelling of Ovid's story of Iphis and Ianthe, which deals with the idea gender fluidity or transformation within the context of heteronormativity. What Smith does, however, is to tell the story, or rather a story playing with similar ideas, in the context of two sisters, Anthea and Imogen ("Midge"), based in one of my favourite places - Inverness.



Anthea is a free-spirited idealist who dislikes her job in the local PR firm her sister got her. Imogen is a straight-laced pragmatist who is pursuing her ambitions in the same firm, which currently tries to market over-priced bottled water. The story really kicks off when a protester by the artistic alias of Iphis07 vandalises the PR firm's property:

"It was a beautiful day.
The boy up the ladder at the gate was in a kilt and sporran. The kilt was a bright red tartan; the boy was black-waistcoated and had frilly cuffs, I could see the frills at his wrists as I came closer. I could see the glint of the knife in his sock. I could see the glint of the little diamond spangles on the waistcoat and the glint that came off the chain that held the sporran on. He had long dark hair winged with ringlets, like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, but cleaner. He was spray-painting, in beautiful red calligraphy, right under the Pure insignia, these words:
DON’T BE STUPID. WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT. SELLING IT IN ANY WAY IS MORALLY WRO..."


I know, I know, it all sounds a bit insipid so far, but it isn't just a story of one sister conforming to what (she thinks) is expected of her and one defying "the man" - Girl Meets Boy, like all stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses, is a story of transformation.

So, when Anthea falls in love with Robin (the protester), it encourages Anthea to figure out what she wants from life but it also opens up Midge to examine her own ideas about ... well, everything, really, and it is in the telling of how both sisters go through this change that Smith really shines. I particularly love the humor .....

"Like double oh seven. Daniel Craig in Casino Royal, rising out of the water like that goddess on a shell, I said. Lo and behold.
Ursula Andress did it first, she said. I mean, after Venus herself, that is. In fact, Daniel Craig and Ursula Andress look remarkably alike, when you compare them."


and the curiosity....

"Then I wondered why on earth would anyone ever stand in the world as if standing in the cornucopic middle of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon but inside a tiny white-painted rectangle about the size of a single space in a car park, refusing to come out of it, and all round her or him the whole world, beautiful, various, waiting?"

and the warmth...

"I get up. I call the police station. The man on the desk is unbelievably informal.

Oh aye, he says. Now, is it one of the message girls or boys or whatever, or one of the seven dwarves that you’re after? Which one would you like? We’ve got Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful, Sleepy, Eye-fist, and another one whose name I’d have to look up for you.

I’d like to talk to my sister, Anthea Gunn, please, I say. And that’s enough flippancy about their tag from you.

About their what, now? he says.

Years from now, I say, you and the Inverness Constabulary will be nothing but a list of dry dusty names locked in an old computer memory stick. But the message girls, the message boys. They’ll be legend.

Uh huh, he says. Well, if you’d like to hang up your phone now, Ms Gunn, I’ll have your wee sister call you back in a jiffy.

(I consider making a formal complaint, while I wait for the phone to go. I am the only person permitted to make fun of my sister.)"



All of which I associate with Inverness anyway and which is somewhat represented by the concerns of locals over Flora MacDonald braving the weather in front of the court house with a bare neck.



(Yeah, yeah, I know it was a stunt for Caley Thistle winning the league, but check out some of the comments on here. ) ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
This book is part of the Canongate Myth Series, in which authors take an ancient myth and reimagine it in contemporary culture. "Girl Meets Boy" is an update of the Myth of Iphis from Ovid's "Metamorphoses", told from the perspective of two sisters in Inverness, Scotland. The older sister adopts a conservative, stereotypical female role - being the caregiver and accepting herself as subordinate to the men in her life. The other sister eventually takes on a role that defies female societal expectations. It is through the understanding and acceptance of her younger sister's true self that the older sister is able to define herself in a way that truly reflects who she is.

What does it mean to be female? What does it mean to be male? Are they exclusive, or gradations of a scheme...is one either, both, or somewhere in between? Does the distinction even matter? These are all questions raised in the book, and ones I will continue to think about for a long time to come. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
Two sisters working in the publicity department of a company become activists for women's issues after one of them starts an affair with another woman who she thought was a man.

Couldn't get enthused by this one. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Apr 7, 2015 |
Ali Smith retells, or re-imagines, the Iphis and Ianthe tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, locating it in contemporary Inverness, Scotland. She breathes new life into the myth by allowing Iphis to retain his/her female nature. For Smith, there is no need for the gods to rescue this“Iphis” from the humiliation she will bring upon herself, her betrothed, and her whole village. Unlike Ovid, Smith is willing to embrace the original pairing, suitably placing it in a spectrum of pairings across this brief novel.

Anthea and Imogen, sisters from a broken home, found solace in their weekly visits to their grandparents. Their grandfather, a former acrobat with a vivid imagination and the art of tale telling, frequently teases them by claiming to have once been a girl. But then his tales are equally fanciful, or at least that is what the older sister and life-bitten realist, Imogen, thinks. Anthea, embarrassed by having been named after a television hostess, is young enough to simply let the tales embrace her. After their abandonment by their mother, it is seven year old Imogen who fills the breach. Inevitably this puts a distance between the two that only time, and their better understanding of who each of them is, can bridge.

The story then shifts to Anthea and Imogen as adults. Imogen is a “Creative”, working for a company that bottles and sells Scottish water. Although she has an outlet through her creative marketing contributions, Imogen is otherwise constricted in thought and action and emotion. When she arranges for Anthea to join the firm, she has no idea that it will trigger a cascade of events. Anthea will turn everything around. Mostly herself, or rather her sexual orientation, but this primarily through standing still and being open to the wonder that is Robin, a beautiful young activist. Imogen will change as well, though it is a moot point whether she changes more or less than her sister.

The writing here is inventive and fresh. Both sisters have very clear and differing voices. But the language of both jumps up an octave when they, separately, fall in love. Love, it turns out, is the true driving force here. Smith pours liquid joy into their reactions to their beloveds. Of course this is merely a brief tale, but it reads beautifully and stands well on its own. Recommended. ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Dec 24, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0676978754, Hardcover)

Another internationally acclaimed writer contributes a fascinating, compelling reinterpretation of a myth that resonates deeply today.

Ligdus and Telethusa are having a child, but they cannot afford to have a girl. Ligdus informs Telethusa that she had better hope for a boy. While this decision makes them both sad, Telethusa “must/obey.” She prays to Isis, but births a girl and names her Iphis, a name that “suited male or female–/a neutral name.” She convinces everyone, including Ligdus, that Iphis is a boy.

Iphis matures and falls in love with another girl, Ianthe, and is engaged for marriage, yet s/he is ruled by the sexual norms of the time: “[P]ossessed by love so strange . . . no female wants/a female!” but “no learned art–can ever make of me/a boy.” She attempts to reconcile her love for Ianthe against the pressures of “nature.” The wedding day is near, Telethusa is desperate, and prays again to Isis. Iphis is transformed, looking like a boy.

Is Ovid suggesting that what we think is nature is attitude? Does Iphis grow a penis? Or does Iphis, adopting the characteristics of a boy, remain a girl married to a girl, undermining traditional values?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

'Girl Meets Boy' is a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets brand new circumstances? Ali Smith's re-mix of Ovid's most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can't be bottled or sold.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1841958697, 1847670687

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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