26 November 2008

Book Review: The Accidental by Ali Smith

Today I am changing my format for my book reviews. It used to be the case that I have an entry in which I review a book, because I finished it recently, and then I upload the cover page of the new book that I am reading. Somehow, I am changing that. I suppose it would be better to have the picture go with the discussion of the book. So even if I am reading a new book now, I am not uploading the picture, yet.

For this entry, I am reviewing The Accidental by Ali Smith.

Let me start by saying that somehow, I get the feeling that British fiction has some sort of common denominator. Note that I have no expertise in literary theory, so I am not making any claims here. It was just something that I noticed, after reading books by Irvine Welsh, such as The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, and by Will Self, such as Being Dead.

Anyway, this book is rather different in writing style. Sentences seem to flow to each other, and the narratives are centered on a family, taking an extended summer vacation in the English countryside. A stranger walks in their lives, and everything changes.

This is not your garden-variety comedy, nor tragedy. In fact, I do not know what to call it. It is one of those novels that make you think long after the novel is finished. It is one of those novels that you don't know how to call, how to categorize, since it is not like anything you have seen before. It is very introspective, psychological in approach. Although I have to say, I sort of hate the way they categorize fiction as psychological fiction. I tend to think that this has nothing to do with psychology. Or maybe perhaps because my flavor of psychology (cognitive) is not what the laypeople think psychology is.

Anyway, the stranger acts as a catalyst, forcing every member of the family to rethink and re-evaluate who they are. It was as if every member of the family was in a lucid dream, and the stranger wakes them all up. Expect the unexpected in this novel. Nothing can be predicted. I suppose because of that, I do not know how to feel about this, therefore resulting in ambivalence. I am not sure whether I like this novel or not.

So there, that was that. I returned that to the library. I then started on a new novel, and this one has something to do with illegal aliens, Algerians, and stowaways. The setting of my fiction moves across the Atlantic, from England to New England.

See my other book reviews here.

(Grave with Pillars, from my Arlington Cemetery Series)

No comments:

Post a comment