Well, it’s official now, after reading two of her books, I really love Ali Smith’s writing. Autumn is beautiful and sucked me in and kept me riveted. She writes like you’re witnessing a dream and her words are incredibly beautiful. She makes me want to be a better writer myself.
But the story of this book is also particularly wonderful. The relationship between a girl and her neighbor who shows her the world in a different way. And it’s only when he’s old and in a care center that she is realizing how much he taught her. We see Elisabeth visiting Daniel and remembering various moments in their life together and how much they helped each other. Daniel was so unlike Elisabeth’s mother, he shows her so many new things, and he loves to talk about books.
In addition, Autumn takes place just after the vote to leave the European Union by the British people and Smith captures the fear, the tumult, and the anger so well in just a few glimpses and dialogues. The way Elisabeth’s mother is so tired (as quoted below) and how much she longs for change that isn’t driven by fear and hate.
I have no idea if the second book in the seasonal series Smith is writing is anything like this one, but I can’t wait to find out. I also want to read everything she’s ever written, and will most likely do so, slowly, over the next several months.
That’s not what I mean, she says. I’m tired of the news. I’m tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling. I’m tired of the vitriol. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the meanness. I’m tired of the selfishness. I’m tired of how we’re doing nothing to stop it. I’m tired of how we’re encouraging it. I’m tired of the violence there is and the violence that’s on its way, that’s coming, that hasn’t happened yet. I’m tired of the liars. I’m tired of sanctified liars. I’m tired of how those liars have let this happen. I’m tired of having to wonder whether they did it out of stupidity or did it on purpose. I’m tired of lying governments. I’m tired of people not caring whether they’re being lied to any more. I’m tired of being made to feel this fearful. I’m tired of animosity. I’m tired of pusillanimosity. (pp 56-57)
It is possible, he said, to be in love not with someone but with their eyes. I mean, with how eyes that aren’t yours let you see where you are, who you are. (pp 159-160)