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Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays Kindle Edition
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“Smith brings her novelist’s gifts— an eye for detail, a languid turn of phrase— to the essay form.” —The Boston Globe
“Taken together, [these essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite and earnestly open mind that’s busy refining its view of life, literature and a great deal in between… Smith shows herself in more ways than one to be a very old, empathetic head on ridiculously young shoulders… It’s in her impassioned, compulsively dialectical and endearingly wonkish inquiry into literature that Smith really takes off.”—Los Angeles Times
“It doesn’t seem to matter what she’s writing about—Kafka, her father, Liberia, George Clooney. Just placing anything within the magnetic field of her restlessly intelligent brain is enough to make it fascinating. Smith (White Teeth) has the gift…of showing you how she reads and thinks; watching her do it makes you feel smarter and more observant just by osmosis.”—Time
“Warmly insightful pieces that tease apart knotty strands of human experience… She has an uncanny eye for detail, on the streets of Liberia or at an Oscar gala in Los Angeles.” —O Magazine
About the Author
- ASIN : B002TV07CY
- Publisher : Penguin Books; 1st edition (October 22, 2009)
- Publication date : October 22, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 2245 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 324 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #588,813 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"Changing My Mind" is a far-reaching collection of essays, some literary, some cinematic, others dealing with other aspects of art, but all deeply personal on one level or another. It is a collection that rewards close reading and casual skimming alike. When you're reading the work of a great author, she can make you care about things you never would have without her prose to guide you. But the essays about shared interest are perhaps even better; to see something that you're enthusiastic about (like, say, David Foster Wallace) get validation through the work of a great essayist is something you can't beat.
Zadie Smith is a master of fiction, because she has enormous empathy for her characters and a gift for depicting even the most mundane moments in their lives. She brings that gift to her reading, cinema-watching, and shared love of comedy with her father (easily the most moving essay is the one about her father's terminal illness and their shared love of British comedy). This is a collection of essays as moving as a great novel.
The selections here cover a broad range of topics, from trips she took to Liberia and the Oscars (not at the same time) to three funny and touching essays about her family. But it is her writings on art that really shine. She shows great insight into the writings of Forster, Eliot, Barthes, Nabokov, and Kafka; in fact, I think the first seven essays are required reading for any aspiring writer. But she also brings a keen eye to cinema, with a wonderful essay about Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo, and even stand-up comedy in an essay about her younger brother's surprisingly (to her) successful foray into that field.
I read one essay each morning, and after the first one I woke up every day excited about reading the next. That is probably the best endorsement I can give this book. But Ms Smith has also inspired me to discover new works, like Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, and re-discover some others. Middlemarch and Everybody is a sharp essay on the philosophy of the famous novel, and not only did it make me want to re-read it immediately, it also inspired me in my own writing. The essay entitled Hepburn and Garbo spurred me to run out and rent the Philadelphia Story. And the final piece, part eulogy and part reading guide, has inspired me to give David Foster Wallace's difficult fiction one more try.
After reading this book, I cannot wait for her next novel.
Top reviews from other countries
Having said that I have to admit I really enjoyed it. I can honestly say that this is the first time I've just sat read an entire book from beginning to end in one sitting. It's not that I don't read either, I typically read 25 to 50 books a year.
The book itself isn't written in long form prose, rather it's articles, speaches, and opinion pieces(?) she's written over the years. These focus on a variety of different areas, like book reviews, cinema, political oratory, and family history.
The order of the stories is somewhat weird (though you can change that by just dibbing in and reading a chapter you fancy), and I'm not sure I'd've started with a review of "Their Eyes Were Turned To God" for example, but having read it I can see why she did, as it gives you a feel for what the author was like growing up.