PInegrove Book Club - Ali Smith 'Spring'

Here’s where the book club chat is going to take place! Starts at 12pm ET, Saturday July 25. Meet you there!


hello & welcome everybody to a discussion on section 1 of ali smith’s 2019 novel spring! as everyone starts to file in, please feel free to introduce yourselves. & why don’t we start with first impressions of the book? what did you think when you opened this thing?

meanwhile, I’m going to post a few questions of different sorts. please hop in wherever you have thoughts! thanks everybody for being here!!


ALSO!! it is my distinct honor to announce the results of the next pg book club: The Sellout by Paul Beatty!!

this ranked choice thing turned out to be extremely interesting. i’ll post results from each round if i can figure out how to do that


try this link…
should be able to see results by round. lmk

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Link works! :slight_smile:

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what sort of statement is the book making about how we live now? is the book painting an accurate portrayal of contemporary living? is this book even trying to?

some categories to start ya off



Hello my name is Daniel. I first felt disoriented while reading he first bit of the book. Then became easily attached to Richard and Paddys relationship.


Ahoy! I’m Ella, ringing in from London.
So far so good (1/3 way through) : the strongest start to a book I’ve ever come across…“What we want is…” POW- then… ER? I had no idea if this would continue as a manifesto -

I haven’t yet read the Autumn, Winter or Summer (out now?) -

I love the twists of narrators, the parentheses self-questioning, that draw back out into societal questioning, I love how sympathetic Paddy is ; and what Richard can represent juxtaposed to her. Twerp seems so 2D, fits in as a result of the intro and current world-states.

There’s a bloody lot going on already voice-wise, t’ween the scripts, the daughter, Paddy, Mansfield/Rilke…

This has gotten me back into reading, so am grateful for it !


what was interesting, unusual, effective, ineffective about the stylistic choices made in part 1?

some notes on style i made:

-present tense
-3rd person limited narration (or is it?)
-conversational vs academic tone?
-no quotation marks
-email, screenplay, voicemail intrusions in the text. descriptions of visual art? is that the same category? sort of borderline there. how far do we push it?
-self referential
-opening section plays with font size


welcome daniel!
yep agreed, the beginning is pretty nuts

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thanks for your thoughts ella! this book’s got a lot of range, doesnt it

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i’/m thinking the disorientation is part of what she’s going for, especially with the breathing font sizes, very weird to read!!


hello I’m annie from germany :slight_smile: first chapter was overwhelming at first but luckily the style of writing changed quickly. I read the novel once and when I started reading it again the first chapter made sense as an introduction to me. I guess it was overwhelming in a way that my twitter feed can be at times. But as the novel progressed focusing on those select personal stories I really started to enjoy it!


Let’s talk about the season motif. To me spring is shown here in a slightly atypical way. We’re introduced first to a pissed-off mother nature. “Mess up my climate, I’ll fuck with your lives” (pg 8). Later, Rilke becomes infected via interacting w a flower! What’s Smith doing with the cultural connotations that attach to Spring? Are there ways she fulfills those more classic associations also?

Hi! I’m Yves and I’m in Las Vegas :slight_smile:

Similarly to Daniel and probably all of us, beginning seemed Infinite Jest-y/hard to follow/disorienting, but was happy when the clear “plot” started to develop. Which would make it seem like I don’t like a challenge. But I do. Anyways, haha…

I can see a lot of parallels to contemporary living especially in the categories of feminism/politics and technology! In regards to feminism and politics, we see the speaker questioning if what they are saying is “offensive” regularly (especially & specifically towards women.) With technology, we see Richard multiple times write or type something he truly wants to say, then second guesses and deletes. I think that is really relatable to today as far as being “hidden” or “protected/shielded” by a screen, and the way that it keeps us from sharing certain things you may want to share or speak on certain things you want to speak on etc etc

Ok, those are my first thoughts so far :slight_smile:


this to me was one of the very most interesting aspects of the book:

What can be said about the relationship between April the book, April the movie-in-progress, & the novel Spring?

In terms of non-linearity, I found it surprising that it didn’t confuse me that much when I read it. Again, it made more sense when reading the novel over again, not even because of the plot but just because I could interpret them as Richard’s mind wondering to the scenarios that let him to be where he is now


Hi everyone! I’m Reniece from Manchester, UK :)) Ok so first impressions of opening this book for me was a major panic attack! I loved/hated/mostly loved the opening paragraph, for me, it perfectly reproduced feelings of being overwhelmed in the present day. It caused me to almost shut down whilst reading it, I think it was a bold statement of what was to come.


interesting because Smith kind of gets to have it both ways—makes fun of the love sequence, the betrayal, the furiously shaking gondola, makes fun of the sleepy contemplative novel, but then gleefully includes passages, which ARE entertaining in the precision of her parody… & she apparently has a hard time writing poorly!

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