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Monday, 7 December 2009

Changing My Mind

"The novels we know best have an architecture. Not only a door going in and another leading out, but rooms, hallways, stairs, little gardens front and back, trapdoors, hidden passageways, et cetera. It's a fortunate rereader who knows half a dozen novels this way in their lifetime. [...] When you enter a beloved novel many times, you can come to feel that you possess it, that nobody else has ever lived there. [...] Even the architect's claim on his creation seems secondary to your wonderful way of living in it."

With this perfect little parable, Zadie Smith opens an essay on Nabokov and Barthes, and the role of the author in a postmodern literary world.
Changing My Mind is the name of her latest offering, a collection of essays. The book is divided into five sections (Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering), and in each, Smith touches on a broad variety of topics with characteristically thoughtful, clear-headed, and open-minded analysis. Perhaps most importantly, as the book jacket notes, each essay's subject is explored through a personal lens, "creating a criticism that is scholarly but never solely academic, rigorous without turning dogmatic."

These are essays that will renew your faith in criticism and remind you why you love to read (fiction and non-fiction lovers alike).

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