PInegrove Book Club - Ali Smith 'Spring'

cant wait to watch the rest of this. i think that a lot of the new music were seeing from artists now is reflective of this new hope (pinegrove being one of them)!


I kept getting the impression that Florence couldn’t possibly be real. What with her being virtually invisible, getting away with all kinds of shenanigans, and her ethereal way of thinking. She definitely gave me some ghost of christmas past vibes when she was interrogating Bernard Oates.


any thoughts on how the stories merged? how freaking exciting did that feel to read? it was for me, very gratifying to complexly understand all of a sudden what smith had been barreling towards the whole time. i’m thinking about the control smith displays in having this macro image set for us, but propelling us from sentence to sentence with micro interest


ya, definitely, it’s almost intoxicating how magically effective she is

getting a grown man in charge of an IRC to yell after her: Hey. HEY. When was I informative. HEY. 206 after she has decided the conversation was over chef kiss


Sooo super satisfying for the stories to come together like that. Especially liked thinking about how Florence/Richard (other characters as well) existing at the same time but not knowing each other (yet?) was parallel to the movie/book from part 1, Mansfield & Rilke and the whole unknowing co-existing vibe.


i cackled!!



edit:wow the message board wouldn’t let me publish an incomplete sentence? that’s weird


i found it interesting in conjunction with the conversation that was had last time we met. there was this sort of hope that there would be new life to come after paddy’s death in the first section. after all, we cant have rebirth without death first. i think florence is that new hope. as the older generation dies, the newer one is born. florence said it herself when brit says that by them being spring and winter, respectively, that florence would kill her off. florence’s response, “without you, i wouldn’t exist” is, what i think, especially ties the two stories together


probably my favorite part in the book so far!!


there was some low-voltage electricity vibrating through me as a remembered that it was a young girl and women in some kind of government get up that interrupted richard at the end of section one, and then when it happened it felt like the lighting bolt finally exploded. and i was actually really happy for richard, he could really uses florence’s shining light! would anyone else have saved him?


Just to complete the quote bc i underlined it and its incredible:

If we were seasons, I would be following you.
You’d be the end of me, Brit said. You’d kill me off.
No, you’d make me possible, the girl now leaning against her fast asleep said.


watching this now

The moment of the stories connecting made me very, very happy as a reader. I haven’t cheated and read ahead yet, so I’m very interested to see if the two stories continue together now, or if there is a third story that will eventually dovetail with the first two.

Overall, I think I connected more with the first book than the second, but I think that’s just a personal preference, and I certainly enjoyed the second as well. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts next week!


as this session comes to a close i wanna say thanks to everyone for the conversation! see you next week, same bat time, same bat channel, to discuss the entire book! & anyone who’s popping in later than this post was made, please feel free to add thoughts any time during the week. see ya soon, & have a good 6 days.


in the interim, i’d like to share two videos on ali smith, just about the only two i can find, actually, but both are exquisite. she is a great speaker: very interesting, quick, unusual ideas that are nevertheless spot on. for anyone who’s interested to know more what she’s thinking i couldnt recommend these more:


I agree about the lack of quotation marks. Given that it’s not in the slightest bit hard to follow who’s talking at any time, they don’t seem necessary at all. It’s a trend I’ve noticed a lot recently.

I find that sort of “modern” stylistic thing to be a very fine line - on one hand you’ve got this, where you feel like the author isn’t trying to look smart, she’s just using the most effective stylistic choice to give the effects she wants. On the other hand, you’ve got something like Will Self’s Umbrella, where he changes character/timeline/storyline mid-sentence with zero explanation and it just feels like he’s trying to impress you, rather than actually being the best way to tell the story he’s trying to tell.


Hello! Liam from Glasgow, Scotland here.

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the book and really enjoying it so far. I’ve been mostly reading genre-fiction for the last while as I’ve not felt up to reading something any more challenging.

I wasn’t expecting the book to be so modernist from the cover (I’ve not read any Ali Smith books before) and really enjoyed the weird opening. I liked how part one wasn’t trying to make you actually like Richard, but you got the impression that he was at least aware of some of his issues. Also as some others have mentioned, his relationship with Paddy (who we see as a positive character) humanises him a bit, as if she sees positive things in him, he can’t be as bad as he thinks he is.

Looking forward to seeing how things tie up (which I’m guessing they will) between parts 1 & 2.


Re her opening statement in the second video, I like how Smith set up Ulysses as the metaphorical fighter in the style corner (around 11 minutes in). And then her ‘point three’ (starting at 14:50) resolves the tension in the entire style vs. content dichotomy… she suggests that we look beyond the ‘vs.’ and see style ‘as’ content. Recognizing that style is integral to great fiction – or else we could just run prose through an algorithmic translator without losing anything – while also asking us to not get stuck in a one-dimensional perspective of what good style looks like.

Also, I love what she says here and I think the second point speaks to what’s happening with the book club: “style isn’t the ghost of the machine, it’s the life that disproves the machine, there’s nothing ghostly about it, it’s alive and human… more, style proves not just individual existence but communal existence… it’s an act at once individual and communal to read a book …” (starting at 15:58).

Really enjoying reading through this discussion everyone!


hey everybody & welcome back!

so now that we’ve finished the book, what’s the general consensus? i have to say for myself that i loved the book, so much about it i thought was adventurous & true. but i want to start by marking one fairly strong reservation, which is the ending. i didnt love it. it moved between annoyingly expository self lacerations from brit—who is just so defensive about being forced to self-reflect, & a fairly ambiguous / open ended conclusion to Florence’s saga. it strikes me that a more ambiguous ending for Brit would have signified more optimism by the author for Great Britain. but as we have it, we have a pretty glum outlook, where Brit is back to work & back to her routine of mistreating migrants, & we have no idea what’s happened ultimately to the bright & shining symbol of spring.


& for that matter we leave richard with the line “yeah but enough about the filmmaker and what russel would call the zzzzzz of his story” 291

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