Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ali Smith - There But For The

A week ago today, I listened as my advisor John Burnside presented us with Ali Smith's amazing rap sheet of success. Then she got an honorary doctorate from St Andrews. The next day, after a cool chat session, she gave me her new book & I'm already almost done with it. Which is rare for me-- I'm a bit of a slow reader. Dangerous in my line of work.

There But For The. The gist is basically this: at a dinner party, a man walks upstairs and locks himself in the spare bedroom of the house, whose hosts he barely knows. The novel is then narrated by four people who, they themselves barely know the man. It's about strangers. It's about "the consequences of even the most casual, fleeting moments we share everyday with one another."

On a personal note, I love a child narrator. 

On another personal note, and for the rest of you musical theatre lovers out there, there is a very extended scene at a tedious dinner party where the main and most returned to topic of conversation is the greats from musical theatre. 

I'm talking Harold Arlen & Yip Harburg, Harburg's childhood run ins (prompted by alphabetical seating) with Ira Gershwin and just before that, one of my fave musical theatre anecdotes of all time about Jerome Kern and the writing of "I've Told Every Little Star," from Music In the Air. (Which thanks to Encores, I saw at City Centre with the amazing Kristin Chenoweth.) Man, I just love it when things I love turn up in other things I love. Reading about musicals in a novel somehow made me miss Broadway and little bit less & a little bit more. 

(Bird loving friends among you, ahem, Torcuil, might also enjoy the above mentioned anecdote. Perhaps you can tell us which bird it was that inspired Kern from listening to song?)

But enough about musicals. Back to the book. Go get There But For The. Just do it.

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