First, a confession. Ali Smith has been a heroine of mine since she eschewed professional theatre companies and chose instead a bunch of schoolchildren to adapt her novel Hotel World for the stage. The result? A Fringe Report award for Best Play at Edinburgh in 2007. To me, this gesture, and the way she preferred to workshop the piece rather than impose a set script on her actors, reflected not just her passion for the living, breathing nature of text but also her generosity of spirit. Both are in evidence in the latest collection of twelve short stories.
Smith’s departure into theatre last year is not really surprising. Any one of these short stories could be read out loud, featuring as they do sprightly, pungent dialogue. ‘We agreed not to behave like this’, says the recipient of a 3 am phonecall