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Summer

– tekijä: Ali Smith

Sarjat: Seasonal Quartet (4)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1395145,816 (4.4)16
Viimeisimmät tallentajatwesther, LauraBrook, missizicks, hmtownsend, yksityinen kirjasto, Flaneuse, SalemAthenaeum

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näyttää 5/5
And so Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet comes full circle with ‘Summer’. What a journey these four books have been – experimental fiction at its best written in the moment at a time of political and social upheaval. Challenging, sometimes grating, often uplifting, so many of the loose threads left dangling in the first three books are reconnected in this finale.
Ali Smith is a challenging author to read. You get comfortable with one story and a couple of characters who she then abandons to tell you about someone else who seems completely disconnected. At times there are passages which seem to belong to no character, where the authorial voice shows through. It can feel as if the manuscripts for two or three novels have been thrown in the air and landed randomly on your Kindle. But then, as you come close to the end of this fourth book, all the disparate stories start to connect. Read ‘Summer’, the last in Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, when your brain is in full gear otherwise you will miss so much.
The story starts in Brighton with Sacha and Robert Greenlaw, teenage siblings, precocious, curious, competitive, committed and awkward. Following a trick Robert plays on his sister, two strangers visit the home where they live with their mum Grace. The strangers, Charlotte and Arthur, are the first characters from previous books to reappear. And so begins a journey to Norfolk, inspired by Einstein, motivated by a promise, towards answers, towards mystery, no one seems to really know.
Smith says summer is ‘heading towards both light and dark. Because summer isn’t just a merry tale. Because there’s no merry tale without darkness.’ Smith’s tales always feature darkness and here it is the wartime stories of Daniel Gluck and his father interned on the Isle of Man and of Daniel’s sister in France. How, I wondered as I read, will Smith connect the Greenlaws, Charlotte, Arthur and the Glucks? That is what kept me reading, to discover the meaning of summer in this story and to these particular characters. Smith says ‘summer’s surely really all about an imagined end. We head for it instinctually like it must mean something.’ There is so much depth in her exploration of theme – paralleling ‘The Winter’s Tale’, for example, and her own summer tale via the remembered summer of Grace when a young Shakespearean actress – more than I can explain here. You have to read it for yourself.
I do wish for old-fashioned punctuation, speech marks and clearly delineated changes of voice, the lack of which interrupts the flow of my reading and takes me away from the story – surely that can’t be the conscious objective of any author.
I will re-read this quartet back-to-back, without pause, hoping to gain more understanding and nuance. Individually, the novels are challenging and at times mystifying. Collectively, they become something else entirely. I suspect in years to come I will see a different interpretation.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Sep 8, 2020 |
The seasonal quartet comes to a conclusion with “Summer” which is set in the troubling spring of 2020. Teenagers Sacha and Robert know about the problems the planet faces, not just the virus which locks them down, but climate change, the refugee crisis, Brexit and the unreliability of media and the political class make them ponder about the times they are living in. But it is not only the big issues that trouble the siblings, also the typical quarrels of brother and sister and their parents’ separation occupy their minds. But other times, too, challenged people and nevertheless lead to great outcomes.

Once more, just like in her former novels, not only the ones belonging to the quartet, there is so much in it which makes it really difficult to review. Many aspects mentioned are worth commenting on, in the first place, Ali Smith’s writing, again, is simply marvellous, the way she uses language in this specific novel also moves to a metalevel discussing words and the ability to express oneself also without using oral language. In a times when words are misused to blind and mislead people – some doing this even quite overtly – you have to become even more careful with what you say and easily realise that maybe the language as we know and use it is not enough anymore.

I really adored her characters in this novel, first and foremost Robert, even though he also behaves, quite typical for his age, nasty at times. He is on the brink of losing his childish innocence, clever as he is, he asks questions and investigates and even though only 13 years old, can brilliantly analyse the politicians’ deceit. When investigating Einstein, a mastermind he admires for his scientific achievement, he also becomes aware of the fact that sometimes, people can have two sides at the same time which might be difficult to bring together.

Topics which were addressed in the former parts are now picked up again and thus, “Summer” forms a perfect conclusion. Even with the sheer mass of big problems, Smith’s novel provides hope, especially with the young generation portrayed here. They are heroes and have the capacity of making a change. For Sacha, climate activists, NHS workers and Black Lives Matter protesters are heroes according to her definition:

“I have a vision that the modern sense of being a hero is like shining a bright light on things that need to be seen. I guess that if someone does this it brings its own consequences.”

In her understanding, everybody can become a hero, we only have to start. ( )
  miss.mesmerized | Sep 7, 2020 |
I read this book as an electronic advance reading copy provided by Edelweiss, and I have submitted my comments to the publisher via that web site.

This book is a lovely wrap up of the author's seasonal quartet. It brings together some of the charming characters from Autumn and Spring and continues the theme of xenophobia, while offering the hope of mutual aid and understanding. I learned about an Italian filmmaker (kind of a snooze) and internment camps for British people of German ancestry during World Wars I and II (interesting and disturbing, in light of the present day refugee detention centers). Recommended for all readers. ( )
  librarianarpita | Aug 11, 2020 |
The fourth and — regrettably — last in Ali Smith's wonderful exercise in writing about the world in (almost) real time, her "Seasonal Quartet". Everything's here as we would wish: the fourth in the series of Hockney paintings of a lane in the Yorkshire Wolds; a Dickens novel (David Copperfield this time); a Shakespeare play (less predictably, it's The winter's Tale!); a forgotten artist we should have known about but didn't (Italian painter, film-maker and novelist Lorenza Mazzetti); and an unexpected footnote of history: Einstein in Norfolk.

And of course, in the foreground, there is all the improbable nastiness of the world we find ourselves in: the Virus, of course, and his bizarre return to government; the continuing attacks on truth and meaning and language itself (ingeniously represented by a character who never actually appears in the book, a writer who is experiencing speech apraxia); climate-disaster; the small-v virus, of course, the many meanings of "lockdown"; and so on.

The themes of Brexit, xenophobia, the immigration-removal industry, and general intolerance and hate are carried over from the previous books in the sequence, and we meet some of the characters from those books again too, with a lengthy — but relevant — digression into World War II, with Daniel Gluck from the first book recalling his internment on the Isle of Man whilst we follow his sister's undercover work helping Jews to escape from Vichy France.

There are new characters, too: the teenage siblings Sacha and Robert and their mother, the former actress Grace. Sacha is a devoted follower of Greta Thunberg, but reacts with complete incomprehension when her mother suggests that she should find a more precise source than "the internet" for that glib Hannah Arendt quote she's using in her school essay. She reacts with fear and alarm to what she hears about what's going on in the world, whilst her brother takes the moral environment he's growing up in as a licence to do whatever makes him laugh. If politicians are behaving like teenage boys, teenage boys are going to have to take things a notch further, even if that means inflicting serious injuries on your sister for the sake of concretising a metaphor...

Funny, clever, subversive, and warm, but deeply unsettling and frightening. There's a hint here that humans have been faced with tough times before and have got through them with the help of crazy, fearless individuals prepared to swim against the tide, but it's barely a hint. Nothing is resolved at the end of this book, all the work is still there for us to do ourselves. ( )
3 ääni thorold | Aug 11, 2020 |
A novel novel, about a broken family, about truth, about social media, about the climate crisis, about immigration, about the novel coronavirus pandemic and many other things.
The lightness of play with words and their multiple meanings.
The book links back to the stories told and characters in the previous books in this quartet.
This book looks forward to the future.
This novel makes me look afresh, again.
Wonderful. ( )
  CarltonC | Aug 10, 2020 |
näyttää 5/5
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