I am still reading from the TBR pile (until the end of March) and this one was picked up at a charity shop a few months ago. I really like Ali Smith and have previously reviewed The Accidental and There But For The. This one reminded me of when I heard her speak during the Manchester Literature Festival when she did the Manchester Sermon 2012 (pdf available here). The ideas come thick and fast and stream-of-consciousness hardly covers it; it is more like being able to read someone's brain working, memories linking one to another seamlessly then circling back round to the original thought.
It's about sisters, Anthea and Imogen. It is also about mythology; their family mythology surrounding the disappearance of their mother and then the disappearance of their grandparents. And for Robin, the graffiti artist, the myth of Iphis has become something of an obsession. It is also about political awakening, as Imogen discovers that the company she works for has some deeply questionable attitudes. But mostly it is a book about emotions, quite highly charged ones, and the gut instincts that prompt people to make life changing decisions. There's not much to say about it really because not much happens and it is quite a short book. It has all the punch and originality you come to expect from Ali Smith. I only noted one quote so I will give it to you here, kind of sums the book up, it's about noticing the little things that are important:
"I went to stand by the window where the water cooler was. I pressed the button and water bubbled out of the big plastic container into the little plastic cup. It tasted of plastic. I'm dead, I thought. That's that. It was a relief. The only thing I was sorry about was troubling Midge. She had been sweet there, trying to save me.
I watched a tiny bird fling itself through the air off the guttering above the Boardroom window and land on its feet on a branch of the tree over the huge Pure corporation sign at the front gate of the building. The bird's casual expertise pleased me. I wondered if that group of people outside, gathered at the front gate under the Pure sign, had seen it land." (p.41-2)