I was wondering going into this novel whether or not it was a continuation of the characters and stories of Autumn. And it isn’t.
Autumn is the first of the Ali Smith novels I have really enjoyed. I have maintained the ideas that a)she’s a very good writer, b) she’s going to be considerably important in years to come, c) I am deeply interested in her work, and d) she will win a Booker Prize before too long.
Perhaps this is it. Autumn was better the George Saunders’s scam of a novel Lincoln in the Bardo, so maybe Winter will be her due.
Anyway, this novel is not a continuation of Autumn’s story, but it is a continuation of its themes. This novel begins with an absolutely hilarious, devastating, and brilliant list of “modern deaths” we’re experiencing. Smith writes this list in the form of a Dickensian “Best of times, Worst of times” style similar to the start of Autumn (“It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times). In this modern list, we’re to recognize and acknowledge the ways in which our current times are written about as the death of….well, everything…..death of art, death the novel, death of race, death of gender but also feminism…etc etc etc etc. This kind of hyperbole does speak to the current zeitgeist of how we, as Liberals…and if you’re not, whatever, conceive of current times as extraordinarily dark. If you don’t great and all, but we’re being run by the goddamn villains, so it’s hard to see otherwise. Anyway, this is good…read both. Don’t look for much of a plot and narrative…because Ali Smith doesn’t do those. She does voice voice voice.