There But For The

July 13, 2011

In an essay I wrote for Pretty Queer over here a little while ago, I accused my friend Red of hating fun, when the reality is actually that I am the one who hates fun. The thing I like best in movies is when they are kind of sadistic; I just watched this movie Insidious and except for the demon in blackface, I was like “this tale of a young man being tortured by demons just warms the cockles of my dead heart.” And the writer I always come back to, Kathy Acker, is confrontational as hell. I think it’s funny and exciting how confrontational she is, without taking away from how intense she is. It’s like a combination of bluntness and a different kind of bluntness. Even with music, most of the time when I listen to stuff other people like I’m like “why isn’t anyone shrieking.”

That might be an overstatement.

My point is just, I can’t figure out why I like Ali Smith. I mean, I know why I like her, but I have no idea where she fits into the body of stuff that I like, because her stuff is so relentlessly charming. It’s an intellectually rigorous kind of charming- she definitely confronts serious things, but it’s always in the context of puns and witticisms and, like, prose that exults in the joy of being prose, or whatever.

So like, this book was great. It didn’t have the melancholy that I remember characterizing her last novel, The Accidental, which means it doesn’t feel to me like it’s got the weight of that last one, which’ll go down as one of her major works. Did it win an award? I think it probably did. I forget. Or was nominated for one.

Anyway, I guess all I’m trying to say here is that Ali Smith is great and I really enjoy reading her and maybe somebody else can tell me why because I don’t have anything smart to say about her except the Joyce thing but honestly all you have to do is even allude to Joyce and lots of people will think you’re smart.

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