27 February, 2016

Public library and other stories by Ali Smith

Attracted by the title, but enjoyed for Ali Smith’s passion for words, literature and libraries. This book is a gem. Made up of 12 short stories interspersed with personal recollections by her many friends illustrating what libraries mean to them. No doubt inspired by Britain with its beleaguered public libraries. In an article I read Ali said during a talk at an Edinburgh book festival, that while editing the book twenty-three more libraries closed.

She begins with a personal anecdote recounting the time she and her editor went into a building with the word Library above the door, only to find themselves in a place where people would rather have a drink than read, a private club with “some books as a feature”.

Her first story, entitled Last, is about a woman trapped on a train in a rail siding and rescued by the author. As the story unfolds she includes her thoughts as they wander around words and their origins, pronunciation and evolution. Ali Smith clearly loves words and is a master wordsmith, deploying them with consummate skill.

Not normally a short story reader, I was captivated by this book. It contains a diverse, entertaining collection of stories, as well as a loving tribute to libraries and their importance in all communities.

Title: Public library and other stories
Author: Ali Smith

Reviewed by Lynda T, East Coast Bays.

Lynda T reads anything that grabs her interest, but is particularly interested in science fiction and young adult novels.

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