Autumn by Ali Smith is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means.
This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearian jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.
From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.
Reviewed by Maggie Fergusson in Slightly Foxed Issue 54.
Keeping It Real
The undergraduates have yet to return for the next academic term, and Cambridge is asleep. On the sunny ten-minute walk from the station to Ali Smith’s house I pass barely a soul. So it’s good that Ali has emailed clear instructions. ‘Turn right up a tiny road,’ they conclude. ‘It looks like a driveway. It’s our street.’ In fact, when you reach it, it feels neither like a driveway nor a street, but more like a small enchanted world – a terrace of little cottages on one side, tiny gardens opposite. Ali and her partner, Sarah, live in one of the cottages and work in another, and it’s in the working one that Ali’s waiting for me, in a room full of towers of books and old LPs. I sink into a low sofa, and across the rush mat opposite me Ali, small, dark and bright-eyed, settles cross-legged on a large cushion. Her black and white cat weaves to and fro between us.
As a child growing up in a council house in the Scottish Highlands, Ali says, she was ‘shy and outgoing – both at once’, and perhaps this is true of her still. Reading her books, and meeting her in person, you can’t but feel warmed by her generosity, her bursting desire to share her enthusiasms and insights, and her appetite for life. But at the same time she’s ambivalent about the public personae writers these days are obliged to adopt . . .
‘Transcendental writing about art, death, political lies, trees and all the dimensions of love’ Deborah Levy
Keeping It Real
Reading her books, and meeting her in person, you can’t but feel warmed by her generosity, her bursting desire to share her enthusiasms and insights, and her appetite for life. But at the same time...Read more