The First Person and Other Stories, By Ali Smith

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Smith proves she has not just perfected the art of writing the short story but also mastered the ability to make mischief of it in these 12 tales. We find the narrator talking to her younger self, the mother of an adolescent in an act of teenage rebellion, a lover's romantic monologue infused with rank cynicism.

It's not just in the story but in its telling where Smith's real skill lies and she manages to tug the rug from under our feet, narratively speaking, in many of these stories. For those who loved the darkness of Hotel World, or the narrative exhilaration of The Accidental, this is a playful but none the less profound reflection on life, love and fiction. The stories are simply told yet elusive, leaving themselves open for a second, enthralling reading.