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How to be Both par [Smith, Ali]
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How to be Both Format Kindle

3.7 étoiles sur 5 3 commentaires client

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Consider this moral conundrum for a moment, George’s mother says to George who’s sitting in the front passenger seat.
Not says. Said. 
George’s mother is dead.
What moral conundrum? George says.
The passenger seat in the hire car is strange, being on the side the driver’s seat is on at home. This must be a bit like driving is, except without the actual, you know, driving.
Okay. You’re an artist, her mother says.
Am I? George says. Since when? And is that a moral conundrum? 
Ha ha, her mother says. Humour me. Imagine it. You’re an artist.
This conversation is happening last May, when George’s mother is still alive, obviously. She’s been dead since September. Now it’s January, to be more precise it’s just past midnight on New Year’s Eve, which means it has just become the year after the year in which George’s mother died.
George’s father is out. It is better than him being at home, standing maudlin in the kitchen or going round the house switching things off and on. Henry is asleep. She just went in and checked on him; he was dead to the world, though not as dead as the word dead literally means when it means, you know, dead.
This will be the first year her mother hasn’t been alive since the year her mother was born. That is so obvious that it is stupid even to think it and yet so terrible that you can’t not think it. Both at once.
Anyway George is spending the first minutes of the new year looking up the lyrics of an old song. Let’s Twist Again. Lyrics by Kal Mann. The words are pretty bad. Let’s twist again like we did last summer. Let’s twist again like we did last year. Then there’s a really bad rhyme, a rhyme that isn’t, properly speaking, even a rhyme.
Do you remember when
Things were really hummin’. 
Hummin’ doesn’t rhyme with summer, the line doesn’t end in a question mark, and is it meant to mean, literally, do you remember that time when things smelt really bad? 
Then Let’s twist again, twisting time is here. Or, as all the sites say, twistin’ time. 
At least they’ve used an apostrophe, the George from before her mother died says. 
I do not give a fuck about whether some site on the internet attends to grammatical correctness, the George from after says.
That before and after thing is about mourning, is what people keep saying. They keep talking about how grief has stages. There’s some dispute about how many stages of grief there are. There are three, or five, or some people say seven. 
It’s quite like the songwriter actually couldn’t be bothered to think of words. Maybe he was in one of the three, five or seven stages of mourning too. Stage nine (or twenty three or a hundred and twenty three or ad infinitum, because nothing will ever not be like this again): in this stage you will no longer be bothered with whether songwords mean anything. In fact you will hate almost all songs.
But George has to find a song to which you can do this specific dance.
It being so apparently contradictory and meaningless is no doubt a bonus. It will be precisely why the song sold so many copies and was such a big deal at the time. People like things not to be too meaningful.
Okay, I’m imagining, George in the passenger seat last May in Italy says at exactly the same time as George at home in England the following January stares at the meaninglessness of the words of an old song. Outside the car window Italy unfurls round and over them so hot and yellow it looks like it’s been sandblasted. In the back Henry snuffles lightly, his eyes closed, his mouth open. The band of the seatbelt is over his forehead because he is so small.
You’re an artist, her mother says, and you’re working on a project with a lot of other artists. And everybody on the project is getting the same amount, salary-wise. But you believe that what you’re doing is worth more than everyone on the project, including you, is getting paid. So you write a letter to the man who’s commissioned the work and you ask him to give you more money than everyone else is getting.
Am I worth more? George says. Am I better than the other artists?
Does that matter? her mother says. Is that what matters?
Is it me or is it the work that’s worth more? George says.
Good. Keep going, her mother says.
Is this real? George says. Is it hypothetical?
Does that matter? her mother says.

Revue de presse

Magical (Sunday Times)

Radical, dazzling . . . Those writers making doomy predictions about the death of the novel should read Smith's re-imagined novel/s, and take note of the life it contains (Independent)

How to be both is a demanding, restless, brain-ache of a book that is simultaneously a delight and a challenge...What happens here is that you have to let go and revel in life's poetry. The effect is magical (Sunday Times)

Ali Smith is an unrepentant stylist...How to be both reads as if she has summoned words from some region of the unconscious and released them in a trance...Smith's fervent, vital, incantatory prose is entirely her own (Joanna Kavenna Prospect)

Dealing with grief, obsession, sexuality and the versatility of art itself, Smith has created a stunning work that is as rewarding as it is challenging (The List)

Dazzling (Independent)

Stunning (The List)

This warm, funny, subtle, layered, intelligent book deserves to be read at least one-and-a-half times (Honor Clerk Spectator)

Utterly contemporary and vividly historical (Holly Williams The Independent)

Vital (Prospect)

One of the most inventive writers alive and when she starts to have fun with language, and even the idea of what a book should be, the result is exciting, full of joy and wryly funny (Emerald Street)

Ali Smith is a one-off. Her imagination and originality make her one of the most exciting novelists of her generation and for such a profound book this is a remarkably easy and immensely enjoyable read. Both George and Francesco touch the heart and their thoughts and ideas linger on in the mind long after the final page. (Daily Express)

Smith is the brightest spark in a recent explosion of female novelists taking dizzying risks with form and voice . . . most contemporary male authors feel Jurassic by comparison. (Metro)

A marvellous exploration of what it means to look, then look again. Spiralling and twisting stories suggest the ways in which we can transcend walls and barriers - not only between people but between emotions, art forms and historical periods. It is a jeu d'esprit about a girl coming of age and coming to terms with her mother's death, a ghosting of a Renaissance fresco painter in a twenty-first-century frame and an exhortation to do the twist (Sarah Churchwell New Statesman Books of the Year 2014)

Brilliant. No one combines experimentalism and soulfulness like Ali Smith (Craig Taylor Observer Books of the Year)

Dizzingly good and so clever that it makes you want to dance (New Statesman)

Ali Smith's novels soar higher every time and How to be both doesn't disappoint (Julie Myerson Observer)

Two of the most rewarding reads of the year were wrapped up in one book: Ali Smith's How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton), a novel in two sections published to be read in either order. Bringing together the effervescent narratives of an Italian Renaissance fresco painter and a modern teenager, the book explored love, art and possibility with an extraordinary freshness that won it a Booker shortlisting and the Goldsmiths prize for originality. (Guardian)

I've decided - and I do not write this flippantly - that Ali Smith is a genius (LA Review of Books)

Many of this novel's great joys derive from Smith's ability to tie together the two seemingly disparate stories in wonderful and unexpected ways. It's a meditative book, steeped in the voices of these characters. . . . Ali Smith is a master storyteller, and How to Be Both is a charming and erudite novel that can quite literally make us rethink the way we read (Andrew Ervin The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Captivating. . . . Your experience of the novel will be different depending on which story you start with. But either way, the revelations and conclusions will be the same. How to Be Both indeed works both ways, demonstrating not only the power of art itself but also the mastery of Smith's prose (San Francisco Chronicle)

A synthesis of questions long contemplated by an extraordinarily thoughtful author, who succeeds quite well in implanting those questions into well-drawn, memorable people (The New York Times)

An entirely delightful and moving story with characters so endearing and human that you want to remark, as Francesco's mother does about her daughter's drawing, 'It's very good. Well seen.'. . . When you reach the end of this playful and wise novel, you want to turn to the beginning and read it again to piece together its mysteries and keep both halves simultaneously in mind. Reading Ali Smith's How to Be Both is like finishing a cake and having another delicious one still before you to enjoy (The Dallas Morning News)

How to be both celebrates the gift of surprise. . . . I found myself smiling again and again, caught unawares by how well and how beautifully Smith ties together so many seemingly disparate elements. . . . The past and present are connected through an Internet search, themes of death and memory are explored, pop culture and high art swirl together, and careful research allows the line between fiction and history to blur (Betty Scott Bookslut)

Inventive, playful, compassionate. An immensely enjoyable read. (Daily Express)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1664 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 376 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0375424105
  • Editeur : Penguin (28 août 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.7 étoiles sur 5 3 commentaires client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°6.722 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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The story was a little sci-fi but interesting from the artistic point of view, making a liaison between an Italian renaissance male and a modern English artist.
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Pretentious twaddle. If you have to read it, go for "camera" first. I went for "Eyes" and lost the will to live.
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Par mogenot le 7 décembre 2014
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very perfect book with sylvie vartan on picture . The most girl of the yéyé ears ! we wan't more exposition for this book !
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x8a1b7c00) étoiles sur 5 106 commentaires
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8ae46420) étoiles sur 5 Of double lives and double helixes 17 décembre 2014
Par lb136 - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
If you begin with the 15th-century tale, “Eyes,” you will be greeted with a swirl of words that you eventually learn are apparently those of the ghost of the painter Franceso(a) della Cossa, who has painted a wall in an Italian town and wasn’t properly paid. The painter-spectre goes on in a stream of spookconsciousness, weaving the story of the wall painting with the observations of a contemporary teenaged girl, Georg(e)(ia), who is visiting the site of the painted wall with her mother and younger brother.
What fun there is in this part (quite a bit, actually) stems from the shade’s attempts to make sense of modern electronics, as well as some gender bending (if that sort of thing still amuses you, go for it). And you’ll gain knowledge of life in early Renaissance Italy. All the while, you’ll learn how one paints a wall.

The e-book version gives you the choice of starting there, or instead choosing the other tale, “Camera,” which is George’s. Shortly after their visit to the artwork, George’s mother died, and she’s trying to get over her grief. This story is told in the third-person and far more clearly (I doubt if you’ll have to do any flipping back here, as you may well want to do in the painter’s tale.) Anyhow, it’s really, really special, as it weaves back and forth in time as once-lively and witty Georgia gets through her grieving. As you go through it, you’ll recall some of the scenes and some of the comments made in “Eyes” by the painter.

Interestingly, the two tales seem to reflect their eras: the Renaissance tale swirly, witty, larger than life. The modern tale dryer, flatter, ironic more than somewhat. They meld together nicely.

Of the two tales, "Camera" is more successful. There's not a false note in it. Perhaps the author as a teen was as amazing as is her George. "Eyes," of course, is an imagined past, and lot of what's in it comes from research, not life. The artifice shows through more. (And how could it not? It's a tale told by a ghost, after all.)

It is my understanding that half the copies of the physical books start with one story, half with the other. If you have purchased a copy that starts with “Camera,” however, I would definitely recommend that you start with “Eyes” anyhow. It really seems to make more sense that way. At least to me.

Notes and asides: The Kindle version’s AI counts the story twice, because if you load “Eyes” first, then you get “Camera,” and then you get the whole thing in reverse order. And amazingly, each tale ends precisely at the true halfway point, which the AI thinks is the 25% point. When I noticed that, I thought for certain that if Georgia were reading this book that would no doubt amuse her.
46 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8a9a9054) étoiles sur 5 Poetic, realistic, stunning 11 novembre 2014
Par Liliane Ruyters - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
When I started reading How to Be Both I was slightly apprehensive: was I about to read a very long poem? Why did the first pages have such a strange shape? Then it dawned upon me that its protagonist, painter Francesco del Cossa, had died centuries ago. The jaggedness of the first pages had to do with his ghost being transported to 21st century Cambridge. Getting used to his new situation as a ghost, Francesco regains his ability to talk fluently. Towards the end, when he is about to disappear again, his words become raggedly. almost poetic again.

How to Be Both contains two stories: Francesco observing a young girl who has studied one of his paintings; the other the young girl, George, telling her story. I started reading about Francesco, only to discover later on that there are also versions of How to Be Both that start off with George. As it turned out my e-book contained both: after I had finished George’s story, it relooped. This time starting with George. I am glad I was given Francesco’s story first. As he became increasingly intrigued by the young girl and her strange behaviour (not counting the things he as a Renaissance painter would obviously find strange, such as taking pictures with her I-pad), I also found myself increasingly wondering who the girl was and what part she was going to play in How to Be Both? I am not sure whether I would have been just as intrigued if I had read about George first and next about the painter she is that preoccupied with. Truth of the matter is that it is all hypothetical: I was given Francesco first and I am pleased about it.

Francesco talks about his life, his aim to become a famous painter and the people he knew. When he talks about painting it becomes quite apparent that he is totally dedicated to his art. We meet George after her mother has died; she remembers the time she visited Italy with her mother and brother and went to visit the beautiful fresco’s painted by a rather unknown painter, Francesco del Cossa. Their stories are intertwined in an intricate way. It is not just the fact that they kind of meet, its is also the fact that there are certain parallels in their lives and personalities. Francesco (or rather Francesca) speaks her opinionated mind through her paintings, George through questioning facts. Both their mothers fed this tendency by never letting them accept the way things are at the surface: both girls have to look for what is beneath the surface.

How to Be Both is poetic, philosophical and challenges its reader. In return the reader is rewarded with a love story, albeit one structured and told in a significantly different way. I was deeply touched by George and her sorrow, I rooted for Francesco’s goal to become a famous painter. I was sad when I turned the last page.

25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8a791fc0) étoiles sur 5 A good read... eventually 9 novembre 2014
Par Reader at large - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I enjoyed this book... eventually.
It was a close run thing as I almost gave up while reading the section I began with - Eyes.
Time is fluid and while the prose is beautiful, I found the vague stream of consciousness narrative frustrating at times and found myself skimming this section.
The second section (in my copy) is written in the same fashion but tells the story of a (more) contemporary teenage girl's struggle with the death of her mother and the effect on her father and brother, as well as her own grief. As I read this section the links to the first section began to make sense.
After finishing the book, I then returned to the first section and re-read it.
I'm glad I persevered with this book and am sure I will return to it again as it is the type of book that you will find more links and meaning each time it's read, however I did think the premise of starting at whichever section you felt like was a bit of a gimmick not really worthy of the book.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8a74733c) étoiles sur 5 Gimmicky novel told in two parts 16 mars 2015
Par I Know What You Should Read - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Pick up Ali Smith’s latest award-winning novel, and you have a choice: you can begin reading at the beginning (Part One) . . . or you can start the book about halfway through (in my version, that was page 187, which is also Part One). The book was actually published two different ways. In one version, the story of a teenage girl, George, who is dealing with her mother’s recent death, comes first, followed by the story of a fifteenth-century Italian fresco painter (Francescho del Cossa). In the other version, the two stories are flip flopped.

My version starts with the teenage girl, George (short for Georgia). In the present, George is living with her dad and little brother, Henry, and they are all dealing in their own ways with the devastating grief of George’s mother’s death. George’s story often flashes back to memories of times when her mother was still alive. One memory George revisits frequently is a spontaneous trip George, Henry, and their mom took to Italy to see Francescho’s frescoes at the Palazzo Schifanoia. George’s mom read about and saw some reproductions of the frescoes in a magazine. She was so moved that she decided to pull the kids from school, so they could go see them in person immediately. She was spontaneous, passionate, and creative . . . an excellent counter-balance to her George’s more staid, rigid, rule-following personality.

George’s story is straight-forward, told like a “normal” first-person novel. Francescho’s part, in contrast, plays with syntax, grammar, and punctuation. It begins and ends in free verse. Francescho is a ghost, who emerges from a painting that George goes to see regularly after her mother’s death. The ghost can see George and all things in the present (some of which, like cell phones, are confusing), but is invisible. We learn of Francescho’s strange and interesting history (in the 15th century): family, friends, lovers, painting.

Despite their differences in style and voice, the two parts explore very similar themes and issues: the power of art (specifically, of course, Francescho’s), gender, sex and death.

I liked Francescho as a character a lot, but I found that section very hard to read. Perhaps I’m just lazy, but I don’t want to have to work so hard to read a book. Thank God the free verse only lasts a few pages . . . but the weird syntax and grammar remain for the entire section. For me, that was incredibly grating.

On the flip side, George isn’t quite as likeable. She’s a troubled teen. And let’s be honest: it’s hard to sympathize with troubled teens. That said, her section is extremely well written and very readable.

The idea that this book has been published in two different formats is kind of fun. That’s an interesting and novel idea, and I think it is, in large part, why this book has gotten so much hype. Unfortunately, the structure goes beyond the realm of simply creative and complex . . . to straight-up gimmicky. It’s unfortunate, actually, because the idea behind the connected stories is a good one. The execution is just a little over-the-top for my taste.

I am fortunate that my version of the book began with George’s story. The two stories are connected by Francescho’s art, obviously, but this connection is much clearer if you read George’s story first; it would be a bit bizarre and a little tougher to puzzle out if you read Francescho’s story first. I would have been completely lost (at least for a while) had I started with Francescho’s story, and a random ghost emerged from a random painting and watched over a random girl. PRO TIP: If you read the book, regardless of the version you stumble upon, I suggest you start with George’s Part One, rather than Francescho’s.
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8a838c00) étoiles sur 5 Throughout, Smith's characteristic wordplay, humor and inventiveness make for an incomparably energetic reading experience. 5 janvier 2015
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur
Format: Relié
A lot of writers might call themselves "experimental," but there are few whose work truly is --- and can also cross over into popular consumption and win prestigious mainstream literary awards to boot. One of them is Ali Smith, whose latest novel, HOW TO BE BOTH, was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and, most relevantly, won the Goldsmiths Prize for "boldly original fiction."

HOW TO BE BOTH is printed in two editions. In one (the version I read), the first narrative readers encounter is that of a Renaissance artist, Francesco del Cossa, an Italian fresco painter whose name has been (almost) lost to history. This is followed by a parallel narrative focusing on a modern-day teenage girl, George, coping with the sudden loss of her mother. In the other edition, the printed order of the narratives is switched, so the story of the modern teen is followed by that of the artist. (Did you buy the eBook instead? Lucky you --- you get to choose which edition to read.) Part of what Smith is doing here is to investigate ways of storytelling and of reading and, by extension, of knowing.

There are moments of convergence in the two narratives (as George's mother tells her, "nothing's not connected"), both of which center, in very different ways, on an actual artistic marvel: the frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia (literally, the palace of not being bored) in Ferrara, Italy. Francesco was the artist of three (and, according to Smith, the three best) of the panels composing the 12-panel frieze making up the interior walls of the palazzo. George, for whom a recent trip to Ferrara forms one of her most significant memories with her mother, becomes intrigued not only with Francesco's life and art but also with a related moral conundrum presented to her by her brilliant, politically active mother. That conundrum is also at the heart of Francesco's own story, which focuses on the artist's early training and eventual completion of the frescoes --- as well as Francesco's arrival in a sort of "Purgatorium" that might in fact be our contemporary world ("its people dance by themselves in empty and music-less rooms and they do it by filling their ears with little blocks and swaying about to a silence").

Other than these more literal connections (of which there are many more, large and small), there are also countless thematic parallels in issues of art, love, loyalty, gender, sex, truth and justice. Throughout, Smith's characteristic wordplay, humor and inventiveness make for an incomparably energetic reading experience.

After you've completed HOW TO BE BOTH, it's an interesting exercise to go back and imagine how you would have experienced it differently had you read the two halves in the opposite order. What would you have noticed differently? Where would you be surprised? Also an impossible exercise, certainly, but one that readers will likely find themselves musing over long after finishing this remarkable work of fiction.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
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