The First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith | Book Review

‘The First Person and Other Stories’ effortlessly appeals to our hearts, heads and funny bones. Always intellectually playful, but also very moving and funny, Smith explores the ways and whys of storytelling.

Date Published: October 2, 2008

Date Read: January 8, 2018

Genre: Short Stories, Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Limites

Source: BookSale

No. Of Pages: 207

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon, Book Depository


Weirdly satisfying read.

I have vowed to read works of Ali Smith. I don’t know why, but I feel like it is very essential for every reader to read her works. Funny when I say this, because I wasn’t exposed to any of her works before. I never even have met a person so passionate about her books but there was this unshakeable feeling at the recesses of my being telling me to read her works or I will regret it for the rest of my life. And so here we are. I am an Ali Smith virgin no more, and I am beyond happy. I was right about her! I was right about her writing style and how it was able to feel so relatable to a certain extent yet felt utterly weird all at once. I dived in this book not knowing what I’m in for. Turns out I was in for a huge treat, what, with all this peculiarity that doesn’t quite make sense, and does all at the same time.

It is indeed hard to write a review for a short story collection, just as hard as writing a review for a poetry book, but I seriously hope I could give this book the justice it deserves. The First Person and Other Stories I think is an underrated Ali Smith book, I have never heard of it before, I just luckily chanced upon it in a secondhand bookstore. The kind of impulse buy we have once in a while. As I am slowly collecting Ali Smith’s books, when I saw this I knew then it had to go home with me. Reading it was a whole different story of elation. I had really no plans of reading it when I did, I had something else in mind, but as I was browsing my bookshelves, I looked at this book for a second too long. I read the first page and before I know it I am already at the last story. It was a sweet albeit weird ride. I keep throwing the word weird, why you ask, because weird is the perfect description of this story collection. Weird in a good way. The kind of weird that will stay with you for a long time. The kind of weird you want to encounter over and over again.

The First Person and Other Stories gives off dark humour and bits and pieces of everyday life that you often take for granted. I loved how every story had its own wit, its own take on everyday mundane lives and turned it into something meaningful and relevant. How something so trivial can have such a rippling effect in the future. This book didn’t stop at just telling stories, it transcends into this realm of understanding human flaws that was presented in a captivating light, not just highlighting the good parts but most especially the bad ones. That once it all meld together it was just a beautiful piece of an odd art. What strikes me more about this book is it is thought-provoking at best. At first you wouldn’t see the relevance of it all, but once you completely immerse yourself in the book, you’ll literally feel that everything surrounding you is all a blur, that you have formed some kind of bond with the book and nothing could ever break it. Each story is beautiful in its own right. It showcases different facets of one’s life and when put together in this one collection, it complements each other resulting into a coherent book. Ali Smith is a storyteller like no other. Each of the story in this collection, ended in such a way that leaves its reader begging for more yet at the same time satisfied as to how it concluded.

It is overall like a good and intellectual conversation with a stranger, that kind of conversation you’ll replay for days on end. 

My favourite stories are:

  • True Short Story
  • The Child
  • No exit
  • The Second Person
  • Writ
  • Astute Fiery Luxurious
  • The First Person

“You’re not the first person who was ever wounded by love. You’re not the first person who ever knocked on my door. You’re not the first person I ever chanced my arm with. You’re not the first person I ever tried to impress with my brilliant performance of not really being impressed with anything. You’re not the first person to make me laugh. You’re not the first person I ever made laugh. You’re not the first person full stop. But you’re the one right now. I’m the one right now. That’s enough, yes?”
― Ali Smith, The First Person and Other Stories

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