The Book of
by Zadie Smith
" Twice already Marie had pointed out the
brilliance of the autumnal sun on the perfect field of corn, because
the brilliance of the autumnal sun on the perfect field of corn put her
in mind of a haunted house – not a haunted house she had ever
actually seen but the mythical one that sometimes appeared in her mind
(with adjacent graveyard and cat on a fence) whenever she saw the
brilliance of the autumnal sun on the perfect etc., etc., "
Reviewed by Sara Crowley
Smith has persuaded an impressive roster of writers to respond to her
remit to "create a character", and their names alone should encourage
plenty of people to buy this collection.
The book opens
with the disappointing Judith
Castle by David Mitchell. I am unsure if this was a
deliberate pastiche of one of those women’s magazine
twist-in-the-tale stories, but it is an obvious and clichéd
story about a deluded middle class, middle aged caricature of a woman
who has been informed of her lover’s death. Jordan Wellington Lint
by Chris Ware unexpectedly moved me. This is one of the two graphic
stories, and the illustrations and text combine to produce a
heartbreaking portrait of a boy up to the age of 13.
is typically well written. This story of a broken man has depth and
emotion thanks to Kennedy’s attention to detail that adds
layer to layer and makes Frank "real." Hari Kunzru paints a vibrant
picture of Magda
Mandela. She stands in her lime-green thong shouting on
her boyfriends’ doorstep, worrying the neighbours, singing
and threatening. “I HAVE A CONDOM. LINE UP. I AM
surprisingly in a book of characters, both Toby Litt and Dave Eggers
chose to write about a monster. Both were well written, but neither
made much of an impression on this reader.
Miranda July writes a tender story of lost opportunity realized too
late in Roy
Spivey. Spivey, a Hollywood heart-throb who the narrator
finds herself sitting next to on a flight, gives her his phone
"I felt warm
and simple. Nothing bad could ever happen to me while I was holding
hands with him, and when he let go I would have the number that ended
in four. I’d wanted a number like that my whole
writes a beautiful mournful story, Donal
Andrew Sean Greer succeeds in capturing a child’s imagination
in Newton Wicks.
Some stories I read with a "so what?" shrug. Reading taste is
everyone will have his or her own favourites and least liked.
My own highlight was Puppy
by George Saunders. To
be honest I thought he was a writer that I did not "get", but in this
dreadful aching story I was both
absorbed and horrified. The two central characters remain with me, and
how I wish I could change the outcome. I will definitely explore more
of his work.
serves as a showcase that will bring new readers to some of
these authors and is varied enough that there really will be something
for everyone. It is a pity that it seems as if some writers dashed off
a character study rather than stopping to create fully rounded stories,
but the good ones shine out.
Crowley has had short stories and reviews published at Pulp
Net, and a variety of other places. She has won prizes! Her novel in
progress was short listed for the Faber/Booktokens Not Yet Published
Award in 2007.
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Publication Date:Nov 2007
bio: Zadie Smith is the
London-born author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, and On Beauty,
listed by Granta as one of their 20 best young authors.
July, David Mitchell,
Nick Hornby with Posy Simmonds,
Jonathan Safran Foer,
Vendela Vida, AM Homes,
Andrew Sean Greer
you liked this book you might also like....
Richard Ford (ed) "The New Granta
Book of the American Short Story"
Miranda July "No-one Belongs Here
More than You"
other reviewers thought:
New York Times