“You’re not the first person who was ever wounded by love. You’re not the first person who ever knocked on my door. You’re not the first person I ever chanced my arm with. You’re not the first person I ever tried to impress with my brilliant performance of not really being impressed with anything. You’re not the first person to make me laugh. You’re not the first person I ever made laugh. You’re not the first person full stop. But you’re the one right now. I’m the one right now.” 

I read this in May and meant to write up my thoughts on Ali Smith’s The First Person a while ago but could not really find a way to start. I had already fangirled about two of the stories in this collection (Writ and Fidelio and Bess) and other than using the word “awesome”over and over again, I just could not think of any way to convey my impressions of this collection.

And then this morning it hit me – what makes this collection of stories special for me is that it is easy to connect with the stories. Not necessarily connect from the point of familiarity of having been in the same situation – anyone who has read The Child will know what I mean – but connect in way that each story describes a state of connection between the main characters and their surroundings – other people, things, memories, etc. Some of the connections relate closeness, some alienation, but all of the stories managed to reach out to me as a reader. In particular, I enjoyed the ones marked (*):

true short story*
the child*
the third person
fidelio and bess*
the history of history*
no exit
the second person
i know something you don’t know
astute fiery luxurious*
the first person*

So, this is not my first reading of Smith’s work. It is not the first time I read a short story collection, nor is it the first one that grips me. It is not the first time an author leaves me wrapped up in the familiar and unfamiliar alike. It is not the first time an author can engage me in words and worlds I can connect with. But Smith right now is one of the few authors to manage to do this.

“It strikes me, as I look at it, that the table is way beyond my control. Up until this moment, I mean, I believed I owned that table. Now, looking at it out in the open air, I know that I don’t. I know for the first time that I maybe don’t own anything.”


5* (out of 5*)