Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Review of "The Accidental" by Ali Smith
"The Accidental" is a very creatively written book. Each chapter or section is written by a different point of view of the characters involved. And they are written as stream of thought, to clarify this, stop for a second and examine all the thoughts going on in your head and the interruptions that occur and then what thought(s) you go back to and start again. This is the way this book is written. At first I thought this might have been too gimmicky...but I easily lost myself in the book and the style, so it definitely worked.
The story follows a British family on holiday for the summer. Eve Smart, a writer of a series of historical-fiction what-if books that are making her and her publisher some pretty good money, but she has hit the wall with ideas and whether or not to keep writing these books. Her 2 children; Astrid, a twelve year old who I think is the wisest in this book is obsessed with video, Magnus the 17-year-old son, who has a guilty conscious after he showed some guys in school how to crop a picture of a fellow girl student's head on the body of a nude model, the girl committed suicide after the picture was e-mailed out to all the classmates. Then we have Eve's Husband Michael (step-father to Astrid and Magnus). Michael is a professor who along with teaching English, has extra-curricular activities with his female college students and a few others he meets along the way. By the way, Eve knows this, but Michael doesn't know she knows.
Now with this much dysfunction, you would think that would be enough for a good story. But in comes the catalyst, Amber. Amber is a free-spirited 30ish woman that shows up and everyone in the house thinks she's there for someone else. For example, Eve thinks she's one of Michaels "girls," but wonders why she's so much older than the rest. Michael thinks she's helping with Eve's book. So Amber gets free reign over the house with great hospitality. We soon discover Amber has some strange motives. She's constantly pointing out where Eve's life went wrong, she does everything to not be "picked up" by Michael, has sexual relations with Magnus, and shows Astrid that life is not what you record and remember, but what it could be.
And this is really only the beginning of the story. The point-of-view storytelling works great, especially when pointing out how each family member sees the same scene. While the reader has to relive the same scenes over and over the point-of-view is so different it makes for separate stories.
There is some great literature in this book. I call this one my newest Classic. I'll have to check out the other books by Ali Smith.
Books I am currently reading (and will be reviewing soon):
"Bushwhacked" by Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose
"A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book The Second: The Reptile Room" by Lemony Snicket.
"No One Here Gets Out Alive" by Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins
"Deception Point" by Dan Brown