Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Teaser Tuesday: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Ambrosia of The Purple Booker.
To play along just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

On Beauty by Zadie Smith.

On Beauty – Penguin Books

He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.
— Part 2, Chapter 9

She had no idea what it was all about, but she was not in any way nervous. She was still flying on fury, capable of anything.
— Part 3, Chapter 12

Quite the contrast to last week, but who said that this blog had to be following an agenda? I first read this book as an assigned reading in university; the lecturer was quite a fan of the author and while I wasn’t quite convinced at the time I can now at least see where this appreciation came from. A possible case of predetermined mindset to not truly like assigned readings. I’m not sure if this would have extended to books like The Fault in Our Stars, but let’s be thankful that I don’t have to find out.
In any case, this book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and has won a slew of other awards and now that I don’t have to analyse the prose but can just read and enjoy it I can say I understand how Zadie Smith earnt so many accolades as an outstanding novelist. Her writing is clean, to the point, and at the same time so heart-breakingly beautiful, insightful, and spot-on comical when it needs to be.
Two things truly stand out to me: The characters in this book don’t feel like protagonists in a book to me. They could just as well be living across the street that’s how real and defined they are, which is definitely one of the author’s biggest strengths that she manages to write people so well. And the other thing is how organic this story feels, which almost dissolves the fictional distance. It could also be a real reality-documentation (see, I can relate two apparently unrelatable books). That way you slowly move from one event to the next and it doesn’t feel at all constructed but like a logical consequence of all that came before. And if a writer can make you understand this process and seamlessly move along with it I think that’s what distinguishes a really accomplished author.
Not your usual gripping page-turner but more of a steady river of actions that will nonetheless have you reading on and wondering how this will turn out. Truly beautiful.

Have you revisited an assigned reading book and maybe developed a new appreciation for it? Share your reads and teasers in the comments!


Nise' said...

I know I didn't appreciate assigned reading in high school and college as much as I did later!

Alice Audrey said...

I think the act of assigning the reading is enough to lower the value several notches. It takes away the delight of discovery.

Mine: http://www.aliceaudrey.com/?p=15867

sjhigbee said...

Oh yes - I revisited Grahme Greene after having to slog through Brighton Rock for my A level English and finding The Power and the Glory blew me away... I haven't had the pleasure of reading Zadie Smith - and I know I should. Thank you for your interesting, insightful article on her writing:)

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