Falling and Brexiting

28 10 2017


Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819.

How about Autumn 2016?

Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearian jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.

Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

Here comes Autumn.

It’s a terrific read and extremely well written (as you would expect from the marvellous Ali Smith). Sharp and clever it covers a lot of contemporary Brexity ground as well as some fantastic Pop Art commentary on Pauline Boty. There aren’t many novels with Art History lecturers as central characters and Autumn demonstrates they have a lot to offer. I’d never heard of Boty before and therefore was really pleased to come across this picture – The Only Blonde in the World – by her at Tate St Ives right after finishing the book. It may not have won the Booker prize but it was a very worthy runner up.


four stars

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