At a dinner party in the posh London suburb of Greenwich, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and the story of Miles is one told from the points of view of four of them: a woman in her 40s called Anna, a man in his 60s called Mark, a woman in her 80s called May, and a 10-year-old child called Brooke. The thing is... none of these people knows Miles anything more than glancingly. So how much is it possible to know about a stranger? And what are the consequences of even the most casual, most fleeting meetings we have every day with other human beings?
Brilliantly audacious, disarmingly playful, full of Smith's trademark wit and puns, There but for the is a deft exploration of the human need for separation - from our pasts and from one another - and the redemptive possibilities for connections.
©2011 Original material by Ali Smith. Grateful acknowledgment is made to Nananda Music, B.V., c/o Tier Three Music (ASCAP) for permission to reprint an excerpt from "Ding-A-Dong" by Dick Baker, Will Luikinga, and Eddy Ouwens, copyright © Nada International C.V., administered by Nananda Music, B.V. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. (P)2011 (p) 2011 HighBridge Company
"So much more than the sum of its parts.... This fine, unusual novel is sweet and melancholy, indulgent of language and of the fragile oddballs who so relish in it." (Publishers Weekly)
“Quirky, intricately put together. . . . A book about loss and retention: about what we forget and what we remember, about the people who pass through our lives and what bits of them cling to our consciousness." (Charles McGrath, The New York Times)
“Ali Smith’s clever, by turns whimsical and subtly wrenching fifth novel, There But For The, is another book that sends you back to the beginning once you’ve reached the end, both to connect the dots of her intricately structured story and to marvel at what she has pulled off.” (Heller McAplin, NPR “Five 2011 Books That Stay With You”)
This book is as insufferable as the house guest that ties the book together. I got this book based on its awards and strong critical reviews but found the book an annoying slog. Smith uses devices that I usually enjoy in writting (streams of consiousness, multiple narratives, no real heavy plotting) but creates a book that just caused me to give a thousand mile stare when listening too.
Here are some of the problems I had with the book:
1) Characters are poorly introduced and you need to spend a large chunk of time figuring out where the fit into the plot rather than enjoying the story; a few characters and plot lines I just gave up on; some books are worth the effort of really trying to understand it; this is not one of them.
2) Streams of consiousness that go no where and speak like some trivia napkin or fortune cookie
3) the book seems to be in love with its own cleverness like Smith just discovered certain ideas in metafiction and narrative and decided to take it out for a test drive with little consequence or interesting results
This might be your cup of tea but I just found the book awful. The narrator also has a rather shrill tone of a school marm.
I stuck through this book, but it just didn't speak to me... Strange punctuation style, seemingly irrelevant stories that have a somewhat interesting twist of circular story telling. However, I must not be the target reader type for this book, I didn't love it.
Likes: Cozy mysteries (cats a plus), personal memoirs,not too dark fantasy, books about the brain. Dislikes: Torture, animal cruelty.
I normally wouldn't stop reading a book and then review it but I am making an exception here. I want to review it so other people know what I know but I didn't want to spend any more of my life listening to it when there are so many other books. I should listen to samples before buying books too so at least I would have known about the really strong theatrical English accent the narrator uses. I am not a big fan of narrators with accents but sometimes they are OK. This one I found made it hard to understand what was being said. Between the accent and the slang I got lost a lot, and add on to that the content which involves a lot of stream of consciousness and cutesy word play, I have never listened to a book so poorly suited to be an audiobook. If you like these sorts of very British books with clever wording and stories of lives of quiet desperation, maybe this is your book. BUT I suggest you read it rather than listen to it. I am not sure why I picked this out in the first place - something in the description caught my interest but I think I will avoid books like this in the future. The last straw for me was a scene where a man was walking through a park (that much I got) and I thought he was talking to his mother, then he seemed to be talking to his dead father but I wasn't really sure, and I could never tell which comments were said aloud and which just thought. If you can't tell whether someone is talking to themselves, or a live person, or a dead person, I think it is time to move on to a different book. So I will.
If you enjoy confusing plot lines by fast talkers
Speech pattern too fast
This book had everything I like--a good story and well-developed characters, but also an Interest in ideas, words and sentences. This is a book I would typically prefer to read than hear, but the audio worked for me very well, even with all the changes in perspective and voice.
A different narrator might have helped. The voice grated on my nerves.
Disjointed and boring. Maybe reading it instead of listening would have given me an appreciation for it. I couldn't even make it through the last 2 hours.
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
The young girl, Brooke, was certainly one of the loves of this book. Overall, there was much to love about this novel. The diversity of the various characters made it like being in the heart of London.
I cannot name only one. I vastly enjoyed the conversations Brooke had with others and especially, her parents. Obviously, also Miles!
Everything. Flosnik is one of my all-time favorite readers.
I don't think in terms of film, so cannot answer this question.
I don't much like comparisons to film. No book can ever, really, be made into the perfect film, or so I believe. This was a tremendous read that flowed flawlessly from character to character and scene to scene. What a marvelous writer, Ms. Ali Smith.
her voice is extremely grating, and she says the dialogue tags in consistent drone
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