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I think Ali Smith might be made of magic. This book moves; it dances to the arc of characters' recollected memories, it glides over penned autumn winds, it rises and falls with sleep-filled breaths. Autumn tells the story of two friends, Elisabeth and George, who form a singularly special friendship when elementary-aged Elisabeth and her mother move in next door to George, an old (in his eighties) musician, full of passion for art from the sixties. In her typical non-linear style, Smith narrates a fifty-year chunk of time in Britain, focusing especially on the juxtaposition of the then (empowered artists, hope-filled futures), and the now (horrifying nationalism, self-imposed isolation). Smith will leave you clinging to the last page.
Michael McCarthy saturates this collection of nature essays with evocative and compelling prose that made me close my eyes and recall my own childhood memories of nature. As a child, McCarthy fell in love with the natural world that surrounded his home in Liverpool; the estuaries, fields, birds, butterflies, and moths. McCarthy uses these formative experiences to argue for the importance and preservation of nature. Amidst his lyrical joy, McCarthy details the environmental destruction he's witnessed in the last fify years. Beautifull written, his message of desperation is clear, " Love what we have, protect it absolutely."
When was the last time you read something that took on another dimension? In Ali Smith's "How to be Both," the story; characters, plot and world described, interact with each other in a way that allows the reader to conceptualize the story as shapes that materialize and solidify as the book unfolds. The book has two parts; George is a 16-year-old living in modern day Cambridge and has just lost her mother. Francesco is a Renaissance painter in the 1460's, who is remarkably talented and a bit of a social outsider. Smith draws the stories of both their lives into a beautiful and harmonious web that subverts the expectation that storytelling has to be lineal. Highly recommend!
This retelling of the classic snow white tale is twisted, eye-opening, and surprisingly gentle. Oyeyemi begins from the perspective of the stepmother, Boy. The departure from the classic begins there, Boy is a well-written and easy to empathize with character, whose relationship with her stepdaughter, Snow is remarkably complex. When Boy and her husband, Arturo have a child, Bird, the story twists in on itself, swirling themes of racial identity and family obligation into the well-crafted story. Boy, Snow, Bird is bewitching, and lingers in your mind long after you put it down.