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The Resource How to be both, Ali Smith

How to be both, Ali Smith

Label
How to be both
Title
How to be both
Statement of responsibility
Ali Smith
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"The brilliant Booker-nominated novel from one of our finest authors: How to Be Both is a daring, inventive tale that intertwines the stories of a defiant Renaissance painter and a modern teenage girl. How can one be both--near and far, past and present, male and female? In Ali Smith's new novel, two extraordinary characters inhabit the spaces between categories. In one half of the book, we follow the story of Francescho del Cossa, a Renaissance painter in fifteenth-century Italy who assumes a duel identity, living as both a man and a woman. In the novel's other half, George, a contemporary English teenage girl, is in mourning after the death of her brilliant, rebellious mother. As she struggles to fill the void in her life, George finds her thoughts circling again and again around a whimsical trip she and her mother once made to Italy, to see a certain Renaissance fresco... These two stories call out to each other in surprising and deeply resonant ways to form a veritable literary double-take, bending the conventions of genre, storytelling, and our own preconceptions"--
Member of
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, 2015.
  • Costa Novel Award, 2014.
  • New York Times Notable Book, 2015
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ In this era of extolling genre fiction and the joys of story, Smith’s latest novel makes a case for experimental, literary fiction. One half of this daring novel is the mostly conventional tale of a precocious teen struggling with the death of her arty, brilliant mother. George, née Georgia, is still living in a kind of stunned stupor. She sees a school counselor but is mostly helped by her first crush, the alluring H, who starts to pull her out of her shell. The other half of the novel is narrated by the disembodied voice of a fifteenth-century painter caught in the wave-laden air of twentieth-century Britain. As the spirit observes the contemporary world, with its “votive tablets” (iPhones), she casts back to her own life disguised as a boy in order to practice her art. Along the way, we learn of a teenager’s bratty ways with her smart but sometimes overbearing parents, the power politics of Renaissance Italy, the best places to procure blue pigment, and how everyone, everywhere, must come to terms with the passage of time and the grief of loss. And we learn how to be both: male and female, artist and businessperson, rememberer and forgiver, reader of tales and literary adventurer. Lucky us. -- Weber, Lynn (Reviewed 11-15-2014) (Booklist, vol 111, number 6, p22)
  • /* Starred Review */ British author Smith (There but for The ), a playful, highly imaginative literary iconoclast, surpasses her previous efforts in this inventive double novel that deals with gender issues, moral questions, the mystery of death, the value of art, the mutability of time, and several other important topics. Two books coexist under the same title, each presenting largely the same material arranged differently and with different emphases; which narrative one reads first depends on chance, as different copies of the book have been printed with different opening chapters. In one version, the androgynous adolescent character George (for Georgia) is mourning the sudden death of her mother following a family trip to Italy, where they viewed a painting by the obscure Renaissance artist Francesco del Cossa. The alternate volume begins with Francesco, recounting stories of the painter’s youth and the ongoing creation of a fresco in a palazzo in Ferrara, a process described in vibrant detail. Francesco’s secret is disclosed in both sections—teasingly in one, overtly in the other. The narratives are captivating, challenging, and often puzzling, as the prose varies among contemporary vernacular English, archaic 15th-century rhetoric interposed with fragments of poetry, and unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness narration. Clever puns and word games abound. George’s mother accurately identifies the subtext when she says, “Art makes nothing happen in a way that makes something happen.” Smith’s two-in-one novel is a provocative reevaluation of the form. (Dec.) --Staff (Reviewed October 6, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 40, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ What if an Italian Renaissance painter were to drop down to Earth and observe the mysterious modern world—specifically, the world of one bright, young Cambridge girl in the wake of a recent family tragedy? This is the premise of Smith's bold new novel—actually two novels (Eyes and Camera ) in one. Camera is set in the present, when George (Georgia) is grieving the loss of her mother, a feminist art and culture critic, who liked to challenge George about the meaning of art and life, and who became so intrigued by the work of Italian artist Francesco del Cossa that she spirited her children off to Italy to view his frescoes (only recently uncovered beneath later paintings) in their natural setting. Francesco's story (Eyes ) covers his friendship with the boy who grew up to become his benefactor and patron, as well as his early art training and his work on the grand palazzo walls. VERDICT Two versions of the book will be available: one beginning with the artist's story, the other with George's—and readers won't know which they will be reading first until they open their particular book. The order in which the stories are read will surely color the reader's experience of the whole. Which version is the preferred? And "how to be both"—seen and unseen, past and present, male and female, alive and dead, known and unknown? In a work short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize, Smith presents two extraordinary books for the price of one.— Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. --Barbara Love (Reviewed November 15, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 19, p81)
  • /* Starred Review */ This adventurous, entertaining writer offers two distinctive takes on youth, art and death—and even two different editions of the book.George, short for Georgia, is 16, whip-smart and seeking ways to honor her dead mother. She vows to dance the twist every day, as her mother did, and to wear something black for a year. She also inhabits a memory, a visit to Italy they made together to view a 15th-century mural her mother admired, and studies a painting by the same artist in London's National Gallery. There, she sees a woman her mother knew and tries to study her as well. In the book's other half, the ghost of the 15th-century artist pushes up through the earth to the present and finds himself in the museum behind George as she studies his painting and just before she spots the mystery woman. The painter's own memories travel through his youth and apprenticeship in a voice utterly different from and as delightful as George's. He—though gender is bending here too—also loses his mother when young and learns, like George, of the pain and joy of early friendship. He provides an intimate history for the mural in Italy and offers a very foreign take on George and modern times. The book is being published simultaneously in two editions—one begins with George's half, and the other begins with the painter's, which might be slightly more challenging for its diction and historical trappings. Both are remarkable depictions of the treasures of memory and the rich perceptions and creativity of youth, of how we see what's around us and within us. Comical, insightful and clever, Smith (There But for The, 2011, etc.) builds a thoughtful fun house with her many dualities and then risks being obvious in her structural mischief, but it adds perhaps the perfect frame to this marvelous diptych.(Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2014)
Assigning source
Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10356424
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1962-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Smith, Ali
Dewey number
823/.914
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6069.M4213
LC item number
H69 2014
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Artists
  • Art, Italian
  • Gender identity
  • Teenage girls
Target audience
adult
Label
How to be both, Ali Smith
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
371 pages
Isbn
9780375424106
Isbn Type
(hardcover : acid-free paper)
Lccn
2014032965
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 890360650
  • (OCoLC)890360650
Label
How to be both, Ali Smith
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
371 pages
Isbn
9780375424106
Isbn Type
(hardcover : acid-free paper)
Lccn
2014032965
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 890360650
  • (OCoLC)890360650

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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