Saturday, February 12

Believe me by Ali Smith

I love Ali Smith's short stories and this is an excellent example - short, poignant, experimental.  It forms part of the wonderful collection, ‘The Whole Story and Other Stories' - the names of her collections really sparkle! 

It's told in an unconventional style, alternating ‘I said’ and ‘you said’ in direct speech, like a kind of twisted anecdote.

The story is primarily a playful conversation between a couple, both of whom are humourously inventing an affair.  As the tit-for-tat jokes develop, they begin to compete over the same imaginary lover.

It could all be written in the 3rd person - it would make no basic difference to the story and it wouldn’t be necessary to change anything except to substitute ‘(name) said’, but the use of the 1st person makes it intimate and vivid.  You really feel like you are seeing a slice of real life, and while there is very little 'plot' - the action comes from the human interaction.

Emotionally it gives the sense of a warm, strong bond between the pair who can comfortably explore this kind of fantasy together, but there is also a slight edge to it - the gay female lovers are both inventing a affair with a man, a conventional rather than romantic alternative reality, which perhaps is intended as a comment on the way a gay person may feel socially pressured to hide or fabricate parts of their life for greater respectability.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, and it's a good length for reading out/sharing - just 10 not-too-dense pages, though there is some 'adult' content!