Friday, April 14, 2017

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

Image result for changing my mind zadie smith

I don't read much fiction but when I see that an author I am curious about has written a collection of essays, I like to give them a try. So I picked up Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith. She is a prize-winning writer of quite a few short stories, five novels, and a smattering of non-fiction pieces. 

I have not read any of her work, but I have seen the film adaption of her novel White Teeth. Although, now, I am not quite sure how I came to watch it. 

Ms. Smith writes in the forward to this book of essays, all of which appear to be quite long, that it is compiled of pieces written at particular times for different editors. So we have thoughts on Katherine Hepburn (an idol of Ms. Smith's), a look at George Eliot and Middlemarch, a recollection of Smith family Christmases, and her diary of a brief trip to Liberia. One called That Crafty Feeling contains her guidelines on the writing craft. (I might start with that one...)

The essays are broken into sections of Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering. I suppose just to give the disparate pieces some sort of structure at least.

I gleaned the above just by flipping through the book's pages and reading bits here and there. I got the book yesterday and haven't read even one of the pieces, so I hope I have a lot to look forward to.

If you have any thoughts on Ms. Smith and her work, I would be happy to hear them. 


In other news:
I don't usually provide links to online stories but there were two this week that I thought might interest you.

One concerns a daring $2.5 million rare book heist near Heathrow Airport that took place in January (but I am just now discovering it) and what impact it might have. The disturbing speculation is that the antiquarian books will be cut up for their maps, illustrations, and engravings as the books themselves would be difficult for the thieves to sell. Horrors!

Here: Book Heist

The other is a fascinating piece by Icelandic author Ragan Jonasson on translating Agatha Christie. Over the years he has translated 14 of her mysteries and become a mystery writer himself in the process. I really must look up the two-word clue mentioned in Lord Edgeware Dies. Mr. Jonasson states in the article that it took him ten years to settle on a suitable translation of it. 

Here: Agatha Christie


  1. I have not read anything of Zadie Smith, Belle. I look forward to a further post about "Changing My Mind . . . ".

    My goodness. What a heist that was, the likes of which movies are made. One can only hope that the books are found, in one piece, or at least most of them.

    1. Hi, Penny. Yes, the heist was very Mission Impossible!

      I fear the Zadie Smith essays may be a little too 'highbrow' for me. I am more of the 'Why I love my teapot' and 'How my garden grows' type of essay fan. But I will give them a try. I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. I've only read one of Zadie Smith's books, White Teeth, and (sshh, don't tell anyone) I hated it. I read it for a book club, and if I'm remembering correctly, most of us didn't get the hype, and didn't really like the book. So I'll be interested to see how you fare with her essays.

    1. Hi, Kathy. Well, the essays have proven to be quite engaging. I resisted beginning them - I had a feeling they might be too highbrow for my taste - but she has a good sense of humor and an easy style. I have read maybe five or six now. I am not interested at all in her fiction though.