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How to be both by Ali Smith

(15 Posts)
bethshart Wed 10-Jun-15 11:36:11

I've tried to start this several times and it's just won the Women's Fiction Prize. I keep thinking it's maybe because I've got it on my Kindle rather than as a book and maybe I'd enjoy it more if I started with the second half. I sometimes think books win book prizes because they're written in an innovative way rather than because they tell a good story. Anyone any views? Anyone read it?

KurriKurri Wed 10-Jun-15 12:08:57

I haven't read this, but I have read The Accidental and I hated it. Thought it was a 'look at me aren't I clever' loads of old cobblers. I'm sure that won prizes too. I would ditch it frankly if it is an effort to read.

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 10-Jun-15 14:32:19

I haven't read How To Be Both yet (saving it for holiday), but I loved The Accidental and There But For The. I think it is fair to say that these books are not plot-driven and are to a large extent "about" the style, in the sense that a lot of points are made through quite oblique means, puns and so on. I really like them, I have to say, but can see that it is a bit "clever clever" and fair enough if that's not your thing.

KurriKurri Wed 10-Jun-15 14:35:42

Theycallmemellowjello - I read it for my book club and we were split about fifty fifty between those who liked and those who didn't -often happens with the books we chose - I have loved ones that others have hated - always makes for lively discussion ! smile

southeastdweller Wed 10-Jun-15 19:25:40

My God, was this book dull and irritating.

I appreciate to an extent what she did with inventing a new kind of style - the only clever thing about it - but this book left me cold. The stories were confusing, the characterisation weak...just a very unengaging book, really, that I regret spending money on. I've no interest in the history of art which probably didn't help, either.

The best thing about this book was the cover.

Aixoise Thu 11-Jun-15 15:39:46

I hated the Accidental but made myself finish it. I started How to be both and I just CAN'T, I gave up quite quickly - I really wanted to like it as everyone has raved about it but just not for me. And agree with south, the cover was the best thing about it!

hackmum Thu 11-Jun-15 19:13:59

I downloaded a sample onto my Kindle and don't think I even got to the end of the sample. I also only managed a few pages of The Accidental - this is unusual for me as I will usually keep going.

I know she's supposed to be brilliant. But I like to be able to enjoy books as well.

bethshart Fri 12-Jun-15 11:50:10

Thanks for your comments. Now I'll have to read it as my book group have just picked it! That's what book groups are good for, I think, because they give you a chance to read other people's tastes and sometimes you discover a gem where you yourself would never have looked. People who've already read it in the group thought it was brilliant. So I've ordered the paperback and hope that will make it easier. Thanks again. I'll let you know what I think.

Cornishblues Sat 13-Jun-15 23:17:11

I haven't tried it, but have to say I felt the same way about hotel world and another of hers, so have just come to the conclusion that she's not for me, even though I wanted to like her books. Am quite sure the problem is with me!

BeerBird Sun 14-Jun-15 09:30:43

I have also tried to read this a few times but it has no punctuation!!!!?
I have given up, life is too short to be irritated by what you are reading.

Postchildrenpregranny Mon 15-Jun-15 21:27:47

I've triedand given up twice

carlajean Thu 25-Jun-15 21:14:21

I read it and enjoyed it. Having said that, I found the beginning tricksy and irritating and only persevered because i was on holiday and had nothing else to read. Once I got past the first part I enjoyed it more.

bethshart Fri 26-Jun-15 13:59:41

I agree with you carlajean, it seemed all those things you said when I tried to start it but once I got into it, I realised it is an absolutely amazing book - so original, so beautifully written. It's one of those books that maybe even needs a few reads because it is so full of wonderful stories about art and language, and what it's like being young and losing a parent. So much in it. There have been a few books like this I've read in the past where I've had to find the right moment to read them and they often turn out to be books to savour, that you return to again and again. But I understand too if people find it difficult to get into and leave it when there are so many other amazing books in the world to read.

ThingWithFeathers Fri 30-Oct-15 20:56:00

I love Ali Smith's work. So clever and innovative , yet warm and playful, too.

Cheesey1 Tue 03-Nov-15 10:54:15

I've recently read this book and had a conversation on another (much less busy) messageboard where we all fairly fell over ourselves trying to express adequately quite how wonderful it was. I was so pleased to see it mentioned in here and am now a bit perplexed to find so many people who don't like it. Ah well, we can't all love the same things I suppose.

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