Tuesday, 6 November 2012

There but for the by Ali Smith

About the Book

Miles Garth, a guest at a dinner party, locks himself into the upstairs bedroom between the main course and desert. Despite enthusiastic coaxing from the other guests, he stays put and as days turn into weeks and then months, his isolation has an effect on many people's lives. 

What I Think

I was recommended this book by my sister and I wasn't disappointed. It took me a little while to get the title straight, as it's unusual to say the least and doesn't make sense, but this leads to curiosity. Once I started reading it I realised that the book is divided into four sections: There, But, For, The. Now it was clear!

Each section is written from a different person's point of view and each character has his or her own voice. A very distinctive style has been used for the different sections. If you opened the book at any random page, you'd know whose story you were reading. 

Each character has a link, albeit sometimes not a close one, to the main character, Miles. Smith has cleverly used the other characters and their interactions with Miles to disclose more about him and his life and the reasons as to why he's locked himself in the upstairs bedroom of a stranger's house.  

About the Author

Ali Smith was born in 1962 in Inverness. She studied at the University of Aberdeen and lectured at the University of Strathclyde until she was diagnosed with CFS/ME. After her diagnosis she became a full-time writer and writes for The Guardian, The Scotsman and the Times Literary Supplement. She is the author of Hotel World (2001), The Accidental (2005), Girl Meets Boy (2007) and There But For The (2011) as well as short story collections and plays. Both Hotel World and The Accidental were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize as well as the Orange Prize for Fiction. 


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