Townhouse Books

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hotel World: Ali Smith

I had recommended this book for the book club because it sounded really cool -- five interlocking stories, including one of a dead girl floating around, stream of consciousness in a Virginia Woolf way, spooky and dreamy and shortlisted for the Booker Award.

I mostly take it back. The first story, the one of the dead girl whose vocabulary and ability to see/hear colors and sounds fades the longer she is dead, was thrilling and I recommend reading that section. It had fascinating concepts, eerie description of her death, and quick-moving language. Examples:

At her own funeral, when the things of life had already begun to disappear:

I chose the saddest people and I followed them to see where we'd lived. They seemed vaguely familiar. They sat at the front of the church. I couldn't be sure. I had to guess.


From summer to autumn, I did all that I can. I appeared to the father. I appeared to the mother. I appeared to the sister. The father pretended he couldn't see. The more he saw, the more he looked away. A wall crept inches higher from his shoulders round his head; every time I came he added a new layer of bricks to the top of it. By autumn, the wall was way past the top of his head, swaying, badly bricklayed and dangerously unbalanced, nearly up to the ceiling in the living room where it knocked against the lampshade and sent light and shadow spinning every time he crossed the room.

Actually, those were the best parts. You don't have to read any of it now.


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