Books Magazine

Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith

By Pamelascott

A richly inventive new collection of stories from Ali Smith, author of How to be both, winner of the Baileys Women's Prize and the Costa Novel Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Why are books so very powerful?

What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us?

What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?

The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.

Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community and discovery - and right now they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this brilliantly inventive collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.

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[I had come to the conclusion - LAST]

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(Hamish Hamilton, 5 November 2015, 220 pages, hardback, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)

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I've become quite a fan of Ali Smith over the past few months after studying her work via an Open University Course. I've become committed to reading her back catalogue. This is an excellent collection of short stories. In my experiences, a lot of story collections are uneven with a mixture of good and not so good stories. It's rare to find one where every story works and earns its place. Every story is spot on here. I enjoyed all of them. The stories are all different so I didn't know what treat Smith would offer next. The stories have mini essays in between where Smith asks various other writers why public libraries are important to them. I enjoyed these as well. To be clear, the stories are not about public libraries so the point of these mini essays is not clear to me. The stories all use books as a central theme so there's that I suppose. The best stories are Last, The Beholder, The Human Claim and The Art of Elsewhere.

Public Library Other Stories Smith

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