Hotel World by Ali Smith.
Synopsis: Talented, young, 'greggy' swimmer and (how ironic is this?) diving champion Sara Wilby climbs into a dumb waiter for a five pound bet with a fellow employee in the hotel in which she works as a chambermaid only to plummet to her death. The narratives of a soon-to-be-ill hotel receptionist, a homeless, a cynical hack, Sara's sister Claire and a host of ghosts and ghoulies converge on the shaft down which she fell in this compassionate and wise mediatation on love, loss and the transience of existence.
What the blurb would say if it had been written by Bob: "Transcendant stuff! Smith hurdles the limitations of linear temporality with glee and gusto! Bonny lass!!"
Best bits: "She is walking on carpet that sinks like gracious mud..."
A surprise appearance by the ghost of Dusty Springfield who "soars, sure and broken, definite and tentative.." as an ASBO-bound household blare out her rendition of 'The look of love' at full volume first thing in the morning.
That Distance Apart poems by Jackie Kay.
Oh-so-slender volume of (presumably) autobiographical verse by 'greggy', black Scot. The emotional agonies of adoption rendered from all sides of the process.
I thought I'd hid everything
that there wasnae wan giveaway sign
I put the Marx Engels Lenin (no Trotsky)
in the airing cupboard - she'll no be
checking out the towels surely!
All the copies of the Daily Worker
I shoved under the sofa
the dove of peace I took down from the loo
A poster of Paul Robeson
saying give him his passport
I took down from the kitchen
I left a bust of Burns
my detective stories
and the complete works of Shelley
She comes at 11.30 exactly
I pour her coffee
from my new Hungarian set
And foolishly pray she willnae
ask its origins - honestly!
This baby is going to my head
She crosses her legs on the sofa
I fancy I hear the Daily Workers
rustle underneath her
Well she says, you have an interesting home
she sees my eyebrows rise
It's different she qualifies.
Hell and I've spent all morning
trying to look ordinary
- a lovely home for the baby
She buttons her coat all smiles
I'm on the home run
But just as we get to the last post
her eye catches at the same time as mine
a red ribbon with twenty world peace badges
Clear as a hammer and sickle
on the wall
Oh she says are you against nuclear weapons?
To Hell with this. Baby or no baby.
Yes I says. Yes yes yes.
I'd like this baby to live in a nuclear free environment
Oh her eyes light up
I'm all for peace myself she says
and sits down for another cup of coffee
Works in progress: The Atmospheric Railway by Shena MacKay, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami.
L.U.V. on y'all,
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