Thursday, March 1, 2012

There But For The by Ali Smith

There but for theThere but for the by Ali Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"'There but for the' is ultimately a book about loss and retention: about what we forget and what we remember, about the people who pass through our lives and what bits of them cling to our consciousness." - Charles McGrath, NY Times book review, 10/18/11

Honestly, I couldn't say it better. While the central story in this novel is about a man who goes upstairs and locks himself in a room between dinner and dessert and refuses to leave, most of the book isn't about him at all. It focuses instead on the stories of four people who have minor connections to him.

Between each of the four sections is some kind of writing that one of the characters had done for the other, that isn't explained right away but somehow serves as a tie to Miles, who is still barricaded in the room.

I enjoyed this more than I expected. It has been on my radar for a while, first appearing in several reviews and then on a list of books that could have been nominated for the Booker but weren't. Some of the stories get a bit tedious, particularly the 9 year old, but for the most part I really enjoyed them. It made me think of all the little memories I have from people I may have only met one summer, or 20 years ago. Perhaps they will come to MY rescue one day....


  1. I adore Ali Smith and have had this book waiting patiently on my TBr shelf. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get to this book sooner than later.

  2. Hmm, you might be persuading me to try another Ali Smith. I really didn't enjoy The Accidental, but you make this one sound so good.....

  3. And I haven't read her other works. I should so I can compare!


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