The Accidental

by Ali Smith

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Featured image for The Accidental

This book has turned up in every list of recommended books I’ve come across in the last few years, eventually I had to get around to reading it. Was it as good as everyone said it was? Possibly, but it didn’t really do it for me. I mostly read it a handful of pages at a time and didn’t really get into the flow of it. The couple of times I picked it up and read 50 pages or so at a time I really enjoyed it - it’s obviously very well written but you need to get under it’s skin to like it - but most of the time I could easily put it down after five pages and the fancy writing techniques and drawn out narrative don’t work on that scale.

I will remember it for the following verse, taken from a section where one of the characters talks in verse, (I thought they were sonnets but I don’t think they are)

and everything but he felt nothing at all.
He felt- awful. Her name-badge said ‘Miranda’.
Brave new world. He felt bad, utterly small.
He magicked all his cash into her hand, a
small fortune. She straightened her overall.
It was nylon. He dropped her, as if planned, a
little away from where she worked. She waved.
Brave new world. Dr Michael Smart, depraved,

Having spent six years rhyming Miranda (my daughter’s name) and coming up only with ‘veranda’ and ‘Uganda’ I’m pleased to have found a new approach!

But basically, I can see it’s a great book, but it didn’t work very well for me.