There but for the by Ali Smith
Imagine you give a dinner party and a friend of a friend brings a stranger to your house as his guest. He seems pleasant enough.
Imagine that this stranger goes upstairs halfway through the dinner party and locks himself in one of your bedrooms and won’t come out.
Imagine you can’t move him for days, weeks, months. If ever.
This is what Miles does, in a chichi house in the historic borough of Greenwich, in the year 2009-10, in There but for the. Who is Miles, then? And what does it mean, exactly, to live with other people?
Sharply satirical and sharply compassionate, with an eye to the meanings of the smallest of words and the slightest of resonances, There but for the fuses disparate perspectives in a crucially communal expression of identity and explores our very human attempts to navigate between despair and hope, enormity and intimacy, cliché and grace.
Ali Smith’s dazzling new novel is a funny, moving book about time, memory, thought, presence, quietness in a noisy time, and the importance of hearing ourselves think.