This is a review of Girl Meets Boy, the second Ali Smith novel I have read. I read this during the week in preparation for the trip I took to the Edinburgh book festival this Saturday (more on the book festival this week) to see Ali Smith do a talk about her latest work. After reading and loving How to Be Both last year, I knew Ali Smith was someone who could potentially become a new favourite for me. I picked up Girl Meets Boy as I had heard amazing things about it and knew it was quite a quick, yet powerful read. I was not disappointed!
Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances?
Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.
It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations.
Funny and fresh, poetic and political, Girl Meets Boy is a myth of metamorphosis for the modern world. (Goodreads)
I’d first like to talk about Ali Smith’s writing style, which is rather prolific and is actually a style I have grown to love. Smith’s books read like a stream of consciousness and interestingly enough, do not contain speech marks. You almost read a passage before realising it was speech, and it changes the context of what you have read. This takes a couple of pages to get used to, but I think it just makes everything more free form and fluid. Smith plays about with traditional prose, ranging from short and abrupt sentences to paragraph long sentences or long list type sentences. In summary I find this beautiful.
In this book, Smith uses the characters to provide insights and discussion on several themes; gender, sexuality, love, consumerism, capitalism, family, body image, standing up for what you believe… all in under 200 pages! This is not easily done, however Smith uses her wonderfully poetic writing to create such a stunning little book, with such a big and powerful impact.
I knew nothing of the myth this book retells (loosely) and I was concerned that this would be an issue and that I wouldn’t know what was going on, however that was not the case. While the theme of Ovid’s Metamorphosis is there, it is not the soul centre of the book. Instead it discusses love and the fluidity with which it should be able to exist, feminism and the oppression of women and much more.
I would recommend this as an entryway into Ali Smith’s work, as it is both a short and powerful example of what she can do. I can’t wait to read more of her work, as this has just further proven that she could be my next favourite author.
Stunning, emotive, eloquent, real…everything you could want from literary fiction. READ IT!