• Title: The Accidental
  • Author: Ali Smith
  • ISBN: 9780143566502
  • Page: 336
  • Format: None
  • The Accidental The Smart family s lacklustre holiday in Norwich is interrupted by a beguiling stranger called Amber The Smarts try to make sense of their bewildering emotions as Amber tramples over family boundaries
    The Smart family s lacklustre holiday in Norwich is interrupted by a beguiling stranger called Amber The Smarts try to make sense of their bewildering emotions as Amber tramples over family boundaries and forces them to think in an entirely new way A novel about how seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental exploresThe Smart family s lacklustre holiday in Norwich is interrupted by a beguiling stranger called Amber The Smarts try to make sense of their bewildering emotions as Amber tramples over family boundaries and forces them to think in an entirely new way A novel about how seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of storytelling.

    One Reply to “The Accidental”

    1. I really enjoyed Ali Smith’s How to be Both; this one for me was more hit and miss. A dysfunctional or normal family – pretty much the same thing nowadays – rents a holiday home in Norfolk. One day a mysterious stranger, a woman called Amber, arrives and ends up moving in with them. All four members of the family metaphorically are very much waiting for an amber light to turn to green and Amber’s redemptive role is to reveal how this light might be changed. The first problem for me was A [...]

    2. I feel like there was an age, or it IS that age, where writers love to explore with much keenness the family unit, for it is the perfect structure with which to scrutinize its individual parts ("The Corrections," "White Teeth," "The Red House," the list is almost infinite). & this one, a more accessible and modern "Sound and Fury" is a doozy. Like, what is happening here? is the main question through this dense but very readable firework of a novel. All four, or five, protagonists are given [...]

    3. This was a fun and surprising read with lots of scintillating wonders in its delivery and content. It falls into the box of “experimental writing”, but it flows along so fast and spritely compared to many a turgid, self-important postmodern of doorstop dimensions. Ali’s opening epigraph from John Berger was a perfect set-up: “Between the experience of living a normal life at this moment on the planet and the public narratives being offered to give a sense to tat life, the empty space, th [...]

    4. I cannot believe this book is on the 1001 books list. Do the people who write the list not like people who read books anymore? Why would they punish us so? 1001 list writers, once again I question you. Why?I didn't enjoy reading it and to say I found the story a pointless and unrewarding read is probably an understatement. The book seemed to be nothing more than a series of poorly strung together literary devices or maybe it was a vehicle for the trundling out of a series of literary devices to [...]

    5. A flat-out triumph of structure, style, shifting narrative voices, rhythm and language. A pitch-perfect technical masterpiece. Split into three components—the beginning, the middle and the end—the story moves between four perspectives: daughter, son, father, mother. Each section describes various events around a holiday trip to Norwich and the arrival of Amber, a charismatic drifter who changes her behaviour to accommodate each person.A very tight, free indirect style* is deployed to bring t [...]

    6. I don't relish giving a book one star, but The Accidental was the rare book that I found so unreadable that I couldn't even finish it. The writing style was very affected and intentionally obtuse, making the book unpleasant and difficult to read. The characters were whiny and self-involved beyond all reason. There were huge logic gaps (such as why Amber was allowed to hang about the house, uninvited and unknown to all of them-- hello?!) and pithy observations. Ugh. I struggled and struggled with [...]

    7. This started off really good. But it just died on me. I found it got really boring. Did not finish

    8. The stranger who arrives in mysterious circumstances and turns a household on its ear may be familiar literary trope, but Ali Smith does it with such panache and vivacity, the familiar becomes fresh and revelatory. The Accidental shows the rusted and broken bits inside the moral compass of the Smarts, a bourgeois British family of four on summer holiday in a drab northern England town. Eve Smart is mid-list novelist and mother of 17-year-old Magnus and 12-year-old Astrid. Michael Smart, husband [...]

    9. This was phenomenal. Skillfully structured, beautifully written, with a story that kept me flipping pages past my bedtime. The story is told from four different POVs with a stream of consciousness bent and occasional experimental flare, as in the segment narrated in poetry by the serially philandering husband/step-father/English professor, Michael. Twelve-year-old Astrid’s imaginative flights of fancy, pre-teen jargon and maybe hints of ADD were an amusing ride (don’t be alarmed, it’s not [...]

    10. The Accidental takes a well-worn premise – in which the appearance of an enigmatic newcomer upsets the balance of a largely dissatisfied upper-middle-class family – and filters it through that inimitable freeform Ali Smith style.The characters are knowing cliches. Eve is a kind-of-successful author with writer's block. Michael is a professor who's sleeping with, apparently, all his female students. Moody teenage son Magnus is involved in an online bullying scandal that's resulted in a classm [...]

    11. This is a must-read if you are a writer/poet (or poet who loves fiction). It's definitely a writer's book. I can see why many people would dislike it, but it's pure genius. JUST BRILLANT! If you understand lit-heads, poetry meter, characterization, plot lines, emotions, word choice, undercurrent and themes Well, let's just say you're sure to enjoy and appreciate this novel and its style. I love how it's broken up into 3 sections (the beginning, the middle and the end). I love how the chapters st [...]

    12. This novel was shortlisted in the 2005 Booker. This and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go lost to John Banville's The Sea. I can't believe it!Compared to "The Sea", this book's storytelling is very innovative. Brilliantly fresh. My first Ali Smith and I thought I was reading the 21st century equivalent of my favorite James Joyce. The first half is alienating because it basically uses stream-of-consciousness with the main characters having their own POVs per chapter and Smith used terms and events [...]

    13. I think I can safely say that Ali Smith is one of my favourite authors. This is another great one from the Scottish supreme. Once again Smith adopts her trademark "fuck the rules" style of prose, disjointed and stilted and basically all over the place. Her prose is probably why I love her so much. It's so thoroughly unique and enjoyable. Even though the plot of this once isn't her best it's still highly readable. Ali Smith is a god among us.

    14. The Accidental may claim the record for time spent in my reading queue - I bought it over five years ago, and finally got around to reading it this weekend. When I bought it, it had already generated quite a buzz - nominated (unsuccessfully) for the Booker prize, winning the Whitbread. I wasn't sure what to expect I was reading it, I thought I would end up giving it 4 stars, but in the end I really couldn't justify a fourth star. Which already tells you something about Ali Smith - she is (in thi [...]

    15. Here is a literary accident: the almost universal exclusion of female writers from a coherent popular-culture postmodernist ideal. Here is Listverse's Top 10 Works of Postmodern Literature: marvel at the readily bandied about names of Pynchon,DeLillo, and Foster Wallace, however the lack of any female writers on the list is perhaps a bigger tell. In the same way that the Woolf-renaissance happened years after her work was published, perhaps it is only in retrospect that critics can pick out the [...]

    16. "Eve’s head was full of sentences which she’d been practising overnight. Who is to say what authenticity is? Who is to say who owns imagination? Who is to say that my versions, my stories of these individuals’ afterlives, are less true than anyone else’s? She was going to answer every question with a question. This would let her answers seem open, let her seem willing to be discursive, at the same time as be rhetorically cunningly closed."What is it with Ali Smith?! I want to hold her sh [...]

    17. The Accidental is a book with a lot of literary buzz in Britain. It is a finalist for the Whitbread Award and for the Booker. I had heard raves about it on Bookslut, too, so I decided to pick up a copy. I was, however, disappointed.*I can understand why The Accidental is getting a lot of noise. Its a very "writerly" book and very good in that sense. It's written in a stream of consciousness type style, with every chapter representing the internal thoughts of one of the four main characters - Ast [...]

    18. I hesitate to write this review because so many people actually liked this book. I frankly found it deliberately obtuse, unaccessible, and pretentious. It was sort of like reading the post-modern philosophers who are so obscure and self-conscious that you wonder if THEY actually know what they are writing about. This was one of our book club choices and we really wanted to like it. The synopsis seemed intriguing, the reviews were glowing for the most part, and it looked like a relatively fast re [...]

    19. I love Ali Smith. She's so inventive and irreverent. The Accidental sprang from a dream she had, and it's dreamlike. Smith often uses multiple perspectives to weave together a story. I happen to like this--and I find her really gifted at inhabiting different voices. Her other book, Hotel World, really knocked my socks off too. But the Accidental asks different questions (Hotel World was kind of a mystery about a girl who fell down an elevator shaft). Questions like: who are we and how do we end [...]

    20. Do you recall those books that make your day (your week, your year ☺)? Those books that laugh at you from cover to cover without malice, reminding you that art is nothing but ludic, that the pleasure of the text (to borrow Barthes’s phrase) consists in blissfully and effortlessly enjoying both form and content? Those books that do you sooo good? Well, for example David Lodge’s novels have always done this to me. And now, I’ve just delightfully discovered Ali Smith’s Accidental, another [...]

    21. Turns out the thirty year old Eggleston photo on the cover was my favorite thing about this book. Smith can certainly turn out some lovely prose, and couple it with unique approaches to fictional perspective, maybe along the lines of Virginia Woolf's flowery poeticism and narrative experiments. And there are plenty of interesting pieces of the puzzle here (I feel OK using this cliché since one of the book's characters is obsessed with the idea of clichéd language), but they never congeal into [...]

    22. This is so funny, smart, fresh, unexpected, postmodern and experimental, I totally fell in love with Ali Smith’s writing. Had I known I’d love it so much, I would have read it a lot sooner. Of course I’m crazy about Astrid (best 12 yo in fiction, maybe?) and Magnus (that passage when he’s at the cinema thinking about Astrid is so, so good, I loved it to pieces). Oh, and the ending - genius.4.5*

    23. ‘The Accidental’ by Ali Smith:Literary award winning style - check!Literary award winning structure - check!Literary award winning story - well, I don‘t know. Maybe.The character of Amber is a classic one of the mysterious stranger who arrives and changes everything. Although she reminds me of a 1970 hippie, she is thirty years old and very educated. She sleeps in her car despite having been invited by the Smart family to stay in their home. The Smart family adults mistake her identity at [...]

    24. Ali Smith is obviously a genius, a savant, a being whose prolific intelligence is a gift not merely to readers, but to humanity. Or at least, her editors seem to think so. (Why not tell a wondrously gifted writer when she’s written too much? When the clever has become the clumsy, the prodigy pedantic?)This ambitious novel begins by promising to examine one of the most fascinating subjects available to novels and those who love them: the interplay between “real life” and story. Such examina [...]

    25. NB - this was my first Ali Smith and I wrote this review back in 2009.Ali Smith is an author I’ve read about – and it always seems that the reviews either a) praise her b) condone her so I was quite pleased to find out that ‘The Accidental’ made the the 1001 list. I’m even more pleased at the fact that I am part of the former category as well. Yes, I’m now a fan.The Smart family are dysfunctional. Astrid only views life through her handheld camera, her brother Magnus is suicidal, the [...]

    26. If I said Ali Smith's book was formulaic, it wouldn't be a bad thing. Not necessarily. Beginning, middle, end. Formulaic as in formula, as in an equation. The two halves of the book open up, meet in the middle, a simple addition and/or subtraction. Accidental? Nothing is accidental but artificial? Yes. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. Artifice is the air of fiction, is the ground upon which cinemas are built. And the = sign, somewhere in there is the =, and to both sides we'll have our values [...]

    27. Somehow I managed to become trapped inside a world of streaming consciousness, present tense narrative that jumped from inelegant metaphor to inelegant metaphor. I barely made it out alive, swallowing almost fifty pages before declaring defeat and making a strategic retreat to the next book on my to-read shelf.Thank goodness I got out in time!Ali Smith's writing style in this book is too jarring for me to get into the story and actually enjoy it. Reading this book took more effort than The Name [...]

    28. when you read novels, like "the millions" hot tips for 2013, bender The Color Master: Stories , schine Fin & Lady: A Novel , and zambrano Lotería: A Novel you think, hey, this is pretty damn good. but then you pick up ali smith, and you realize, she could kick all the millions hot tips asses, PUT TOGETHER!funny story here of a mysterious stranger, how odd it is to grow up, and pay attention to yourself growing up. and how dreadful it would really be to take a vacation in norwich. maps.googl [...]

    29. I deliberately procrastinated finishing this as I didn't want it to end. I am completely enthralled by Ali Smith's writing and want to live in the world of her books as long as possible. Judging by the dismal ratings that she continually receives on GR it is clear that most just do not understand her. Her books are experimental, postmodern, and stream of consciousness that challenges traditional narrative structures. But she rings all my bells and the ending of this one made me snicker with deli [...]

    30. On a technical level, this is better than many of the books I've given 3 stars. For me, though, it doesn't do anything new. Stream of consciousness, parts of the story made of various styles of poems, characters filming their surroundings, alternate chapters belonging to different characters in a group: all devices I've seen quite a bit of in other things I've read recently.Plus, if you have two litfic stock characters among your main protagonists - a writer the same age and gender as the author [...]

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