At a dinner party in the posh London suburb of Greenwich, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and the story of Miles is one told from the points of view of four of them: a woman in her 40s called Anna, a man in his 60s called Mark, a woman in her 80s called May, and a 10-year-old child called Brooke. The thing is... none of these people knows Miles anything more than glancingly. So how much is it possible to know about a stranger? And what are the consequences of even the most casual, most fleeting meetings we have every day with other human beings?
Brilliantly audacious, disarmingly playful, full of Smith's trademark wit and puns, There but for the is a deft exploration of the human need for separation - from our pasts and from one another - and the redemptive possibilities for connections.
"So much more than the sum of its parts.... This fine, unusual novel is sweet and melancholy, indulgent of language and of the fragile oddballs who so relish in it." (Publishers Weekly)
“Quirky, intricately put together. . . . A book about loss and retention: about what we forget and what we remember, about the people who pass through our lives and what bits of them cling to our consciousness." (Charles McGrath, The New York Times)
“Ali Smith’s clever, by turns whimsical and subtly wrenching fifth novel, There But For The, is another book that sends you back to the beginning once you’ve reached the end, both to connect the dots of her intricately structured story and to marvel at what she has pulled off.” (Heller McAplin, NPR “Five 2011 Books That Stay With You”)
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Insufferable as a bad house guest
Not my cup of tea
I stuck through this book, but it just didn't speak to me... Strange punctuation style, seemingly irrelevant stories that have a somewhat interesting twist of circular story telling. However, I must not be the target reader type for this book, I didn't love it.