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Public Library and Other Stories by Ali…
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Public Library and Other Stories (original 2015; edition 2016)

by Ali Smith (Author)

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1591275,058 (3.69)12
Member:shmibs
Title:Public Library and Other Stories
Authors:Ali Smith (Author)
Info:Anchor (2016), 240 pages
Collections:Your library
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Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith (2015)

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ali smith is forever beautifully clever, informal prose. shows here definitely, but short stories lend themselves less to her poeticisms. her writing yields reduced density, which in novel form means a gradual, natural, zero-effort getting-to-know. here, though, we move too quickly on, and characters and settings blend together, still poetic but less alive and themselves. and because of that (and the selection for common themes) there's a bit of heavy-handed feeling here.

definitely worth a read, but start with her other works and take this as a casual lunch break filler, one story at a time
  shmibs | Jun 15, 2017 |
One of my favorite authors writing about one of my favorite subjects. ‘Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives.” Although the writer is British, the connection to libraries is universal. ( )
  St.CroixSue | Mar 1, 2017 |
I had no intention of buying this book. I was not aware of it before I bought it. I had heard of Ali Smith but my interest in her work has never been piqued. Purely by chance I came across Public Library in Waterstones during a post Christmas book token spendfest and in the course of my browsings it leapt out at me, being one of the books on the shelf displayed face front instead of spine side. ' Public Library' - not only am I a reader but a bibliophile and out and out obsessive compulsive bibliomaniac and so a book with library in the title got my juices flowing - after a quick read of the blurb - ' wonderful stories on the power of books' I was caught and moments later it was mine. It got it's turn today - a rainy Sunday with intermittent power cuts. I was happily surprised. This was not a series of stories about people roaming libraries - although Ali Smith does link each story with retrospectives from friends on what public libraries mean or more commonly meant to them. These are stories about how books and language and literature are in our consciousness and form links between our past and present and between life and death. Yes, death, I thought about death a lot reading these stories. I felt a real connection with the writing here - it reads as I think - jumping around making connections moving off in tangents then coming back to where it started. I also thought and am still thinking about the demise of public libraries in the UK. I am not sure the case was made here in defence of the public library - we are living right now in the dystopia of Fahrenheit 451, to some degree, in the UK and even more so in other parts of the world. There was much talk of a sense of community - of those isolated from the so-called advantages of the modern world - such as people lacking technology skills or funds to access computers, of the homeless ( I wonder if you can get a library card if your address is NFA?) and mothers with young children and yet I ask myself how many people are there who a) cannot afford a 50p charity shop book and b) actually want to read a book - does this number justify the public money spent on libraries giving free access - for the purposes of a chinwag and a warm up out of the cold? I heard somewhere that the number of households without a single book in it are growing rapidly - a sad and worrying fact for the human race. And I suppose I myself am an illustration of what I feel here - here I am a reader - not particularly well off but being able to own the books I read - they are MY books part of me and I want to own the words forever not just borrow them and have to go to the bother of finding the time and inclination to return when done - my books can sit for months and many will sit for years - but they are there waiting for me in my space when I want them - my sofa cost £5.50 from ebay, the telly £47.50 again from ebay ( 32 inch ) and I have a whole house teeming with books bought mostly secondhand from charity shops, secondhand bookshops, amazon, ebay and in some rare cases new from new bookshops. So I think about what I value and what the world I live in today values - For some it is the biggest tv screen at a couple of thousand pounds, that new sofa several hundreds more and others getting the latest Fifty Shades on the KODI stick. Just how relevant are libraries now with books so readily available from a multitude of sources. So what did this book do for me - well it gave me pleasure, it made me want to experience more of Ali Smith's writing and it made my grey cells jump and buzz and come to life and ponder on until the next brain buzzer comes along ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 2, 2017 |
This is more uneven and less knit together than most of her work, though praiseworthy. In America, where we don't have the same issue to rally around, I'd recommend it only to Ali Smith fans. Readers new to her would be better served reading one of her amazing novels.

I thought the best part was the interleaved non-fiction pieces about people's memories of, and attachment to, libraries. ( )
  Laura400 | Jan 27, 2017 |
Aside from this collection, the only work of Ali Smith's I've read is a novel, how to be both. With so little knowledge of the author, it may be premature for me to make assumptions about her writing, but I think it's safe to say that Smith is a very talented writer who speaks in thunderous whispers. What I mean by that is that her stories are decorated in gorgeous language, yet they're unassuming. They are often peopled by strong characters experiencing some small personal growth. There may not be much in the way of story. And while the stories may be affecting, they are not necessarily the most memorable.

It can be difficult to make strong opinions about this style of writing. Many of us belong to a society that is far too fast paced for such stories. While part of me wants to celebrate everything Smith and her ilk write, I must acknowledge that sometimes the stories may be a bit too unassuming. In her latest collection, Smith pairs her stories with brief reflections on public libraries. For the most part, the stories have little to do with libraries, though some touch momentarily on research or reading. Though a couple of the stories appealed to me, the strongest moments come from the library vignettes. These little reflections are often poignant. Overall, the collection has a nice rhythm and certainly captures the beauty of language, but it doesn't possess enough substance or heart as a whole to motivate a more enthusiastic response from me. Public Library and Other Stories aside, I do look forward to reading more of Smith's writing. ( )
  chrisblocker | Dec 6, 2016 |
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Epigraph
This same book in a stranger's hands, half-known.
Those readers kindred spirits, almost friends.
You are in transition; you are on the threshold.
The library is the place that gets you. Pure gold.
Jackie Kay
O magic place it was - still open thank God.
Alexandra Harris
Dedication
For Hazel Beamish and for Sarah Wood
First words
Here's a true story.  Simon, my editor, and I had been meeting to talk about how to put together the book you're reading right now. We set off on a short walk across central London to his office to photocopy some stories I'd brought with me. Just off Covent Garden we saw a building with the word LIBRARY above its doors.
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Book description
Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives--our own personal libraries--make of us? What does the unraveling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us? The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives. At a time when public libraries around the world face threats of cuts and closures, this collection stands as a work of literary activism--and as a wonderful read from one of our finest authors.-- Provided by publisher.

Contents (essays in italics):
Library -- Last

-- that beautiful new build -- Good voice -- opened by mark twain -- Beholder -- a clean, well-lighted place -- Poet -- the ideal model of society -- Human claim -- soon to be sold -- Ex-wife -- put a price on that -- Art of elsewhere -- on bleak house road -- After life -- curve tracing -- Definite article -- Grass -- the making of me -- Say I won't be there -- the infinite possibilities -- And so on.
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