BY ALI SMITH
Released this month in paperback, Spring by Ali Smith is the third novel in this modern literary quartet. Like Autumn and Winter, Spring works brilliantly as a stand alone novel although as a quartet one can begin to appreciate the seasonal structure of Smith’s deeper and thought provoking narrative.
With its peculiar storyline and equally stranger cast of characters where realism and everyday meets the absurder world of social and political Britain in 2019 (this year even more so!) Spring is definitely another Wild Card that fits our alternative choice for readers who want something truly different.
In Spring, an aged TV director, Doubledick Richard, bemoans the loss of his colleague and one-time lover, Paddy. He is suicidal and on the verge of the unthinkable at a railway platform. Saved by two women, one a DCO (Detention Centre Officer) and the other, a young Greta Thunberg figure but in this case, an immigrant orphan, who remarkably can drift in and out of the Immigration Centre with her youthful urgency ‘to do something right to stop it’.
The author's words jibe us with her poetic language – she is angrier and more defiant but still hopeful as approaching April – ‘the month of sacrifice and the month of playfulness’.
It is described as 'the impossible tale of an impossible time'. We might feel different about this now.
This is a marmite read, even for some of Ali Smith's loyal fans in the Den. But as part of this unique seasonal quartet and as a beautifully written stand alone read, the Den really enjoyed and appreciated the conversations that it provoked.
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