Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zadie Smith: Changing My Mind

Holy smokes, this book is good. I've known about it for quite some time (ask John how many times I've carried it around in a bookstore before longingly putting it back in favor of the tall stack next to my bed at home) but finally bit the bullet and purchased a copy before my two super long travel days last weekend.

Smith opens with a quote by none other than Tracy Lord, 'The time to make your mind up about people is never!' and then has an entire chapter on Katherine Hepburn. Swoon! AND E.M. Forester, and Keats, and Chekhov, and her dad, and George Clooney. And D.F.W. (Using initials like that now makes me feel like a Scientologist. Did you all read this article!? Yikes!)

Changing My Mind is a refreshingly unique form of non-fiction writing. It's a collection of essays about, well, things Smith wanted to write about, without the obligatory connective lens haphazardly found in so many non fiction essay collections out there. The randomness works for Smith because we trust her. She's smarter than we are, and has every right to do so.

Smith is good for girls like me. She gives us a backbone and an energy for critical thinking. She never halts for sentiment, but instead powers through the clutter of bad content and poor writing out there, demanding something better from each of us. In 2008, she refused to award a prize for her annual essay contest, crying mediocrity in each entry. (Seriously, read this, it's amazing.)

She is also, along with my lover, teaching courses just up the street at NYU as a recently tenured professor. Props, Z.S. Let's do lunch.


Laura said...

I love Zadie Smith! Remember when I lost "On Beauty" on our LA trip and we called the hotel and they didn't have it? Still sad about that. I will have to get this.

Sarah said...

laura, you would love this book. it will make you a better woman, i kid you not!