Monday, March 2, 2015
How to Be Both by Ali Smith
I did not realize this until I read a review of the book afterward, but depending on which copy you pick up at random, you will either be presented with George's story first or with Francesco's. The two narratives twist around each other like complicated vines – one of George's last trips with her mother was to see the Ferrara frescoes and del Cossa is haunted by strange visions of a teenage girl who uses "a votive tablet" and holds it to heaven "like a priest raising the bread". The fact that this votive tablet is an iPad and that the reader is in on the joke while Francesco isn't--that is the heart of the novel, that these two figures are linked by their stories and not by their times, and it is an innovative and interesting book to read from start to finish, so long as you can take the criss-crossing of time periods without warning.