Thursday, May 11, 2017

Public Library and other stories, by Ali Smith

The dozen wonderful stories in this book are interspersed with paeans to public libraries.  Smith, born in Scotland, lives in England and says that public libraries in the UK are threatened by the same forces that threaten libraries here in this country (particularly under the current administration which wants to defund IMLS).  Like those of you likely to be reading this blog entry, she believes passionately in the value of public libraries, ‘This happens to be a book that celebrates the communal impact on us of books and of reading, their vital importance when it comes to our individual lives and  our shared histories – personal, cultural, social, local and international.  It celebrates the ways our lives have been at least enhanced and at most enabled and transformed by access to public libraries.”  Books, poems, writers, language, the etymology of words, all find a place in these stories, which are wildly inventive and thoughtful.  The human claim mixes a fraudulent charge for a ticket on Lufthansa Airlines on a woman’s credit card with the life of D. H. Lawrence and the fate of the writer’s ashes.  And it works beautifully.  Highly recommended and I look forward to reading her earlier novels.  220 pp.

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