In an essay and kind of novel form, Ali Smith writes about a writer who begins seeing the ghost of her dead partner, who appears in spectre-form, performing actions, sometimes saying words, and bringing up an untold number of memories. Challenging these images too is the relatively short amount of time that relationship lasted before her partner’s death.
This is a meditative and mourning book is beautifully evocative about life, death, what form and presence another takes in our life, and about those traces. It’s also the least Ali Smith book of hers that I’ve read (and I think my 6th or so) and speaks to the power of the narrative and ideas she’s putting forth in this book. I went into this thinking I was getting a collection of essays or speeches about literature, and in part I was, but got more so a meditation on life and death and love. When I say it’s the least Ali Smith book of hers that I have read, what it made me think of instead is of a Jeanette Winterson book, who also write about the haunting forms and vestiges people leave in our lives. I’ve never lost a partner, short or long term, and of course I hope never to, but I’ve been in the lives of people who have and there’s some very recognizable and painful moments in this book that remind me of those people in my life.