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Hotel World (2001)

by Ali Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2273415,196 (3.46)102
Passionate, witty, and formally inventive, Hotel World brings alive five unforgettable characters and traces their intersecting lives.

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English (32)  Dutch (2)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
It's about a young woman, who works as a housecleaner in a hotel, and dies in a freak accident falling through the dumbwaiter. Part of the book is told by her ghost, and I liked that part, it was very creatively done to think about how a person would think and feel after death. But then the book is turned over to four other characters in turn, and none of them really worked for me. I later looked it up and found out that the book is supposed to be about the 5 stages of grief. Honestly, I thought if that was the case it should have been more obvious to me, and I shouldn't have had to look in up on line. ( )
  banjo123 | Mar 28, 2023 |
I honestly have no idea why I chose to read this book. It was described as "experimental" - simply another word for "pretentious," I thought - and I really do not care for stream of consciousness. Or so I thought, before I found myself swept up into Hotel World.

If the first chapter were a painting, it would be one of those swirly Impressionist things. The narrator is the ghost of Sara Whilby, a teenage chambermaid who died in a bizarre accident. She longs for any sort of sensation, even a stone in a shoe, and finds herself forgetting simple words like "toast." Most memorably, she has a conversation with her decomposing body about her death. While I thought the beginning was perfect, I was gradually less interested in the chapters that followed. The thread connecting the five women is a little too delicate at times, and I was not really gripped again until I read the grief-stricken soliloquy from Clara, Sara's younger sister.

While I liked Hotel World, I know for sure not everybody will. This is the kind of book where the most important event has already occurred, so if you keep reading in the hope that something major will happen, you are going to be disappointed. Ali Smith is also a very playful writer, so if you like, say, punctuation marks, this book will drive you nuts. But I am very happy that I stepped outside my reading comfort zone for once! ( )
  doryfish | Jan 29, 2022 |
I read this for my OU course and am looking forward to studying it in more detail, because it will definitely bear a second reading. The language is beautiful, and although I found Clare's stream of consciousness difficult to understand at first, I soon got into the rhythm of it.

Unusual and thought-provoking, but sad and not an easy read. ( )
  pgchuis | Aug 20, 2021 |
Five people who happen to be in the Global Hotel one night, including the ghost of a hotel maid who's plunged to her death in "the, the. The lift for dishes, very small room waiting suspended above a shaft of nothing, I forget the word, it has its own name." It's playful with language, funny, tragic, all about love and life and death, and so compassionate toward ordinary, everyday people without ever becoming sentimental.

"Remember you must live.
Remember you most love.
Remainder you mist leaf." ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
While I appreciate Ali Smith's experimentation, I'm not a fan of the quotidian rhythm of her narrators. Whether they are waiting at the airport, or sitting around on their home computer, or flopping on the bed of a sleazy hotel room, I find myself waiting for something interesting to happen far too frequently. Many will find much appeal in Smith's wry and pointed, thought-provoking comments on society, but you can't escape the droll pace and lingering taste of inconsequential dread of the mundane that it leaves in your mouth. At least, that is my feeling after listening to a third audiobook by this author. Curiously, the best audiobook reader I've heard was Ali Smith herself.

The best parts of this book was the brooding on the topic of death and the unique perspectives. They added some variety, but you will never find a conventional thrill in one of her books. More likely, you will stumble through with the sensibility you have during those dreams, where you're in a public place, nothing is happening, but you are suddenly overcome with incomprehensible anxiety, or you're suddenly naked and dead - one or the other. Obviously, Ali Smith has garnered popularity and success through her slanted view of modern people and their foibles.

I find myself slightly drawn to her other titles, if only for the ease of listening they offer. I know what to expect by now. Some call this literary fiction. It seems to me more fiction of everyday life. A supernatural twist here and there isn't going to change these laundry lists into anything remotely resembling a spectacle. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ali Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The fall occurs at dawn. Albert Camus
Engery is eternal delight. William Blake
Remember you must die. Muriel Spark
Unfriendly, friendly universe, I pack your stars into my purse and bid you, bid you so farewell. THat I can leave you, quite go out, go out, go out beyond all doubt, my Father says, is the miracle. Edwin Muir
to Daphne Wood for her generosity, Andrew & Sheena Smith for their kindness, Sarah Wood fo all the world
First words
Woooooooo-hooooooo what a fall what a soar what a plummet what a dash into dark into light what a plunge what a glide thud crash what a drop what a rush what a swoop what a fright what a mad hushed skirl what a smash mush mash-up broke and gashed what a heart in my mouth what an end.
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Passionate, witty, and formally inventive, Hotel World brings alive five unforgettable characters and traces their intersecting lives.

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