Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith
Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays (2009) (Collection of essays) by Zadie Smith (White Teeth (2000), The Autograph Man (2002), On Beauty (2005), and numerous essays for The Guardian, The New Yorker and other newspapers and magazines).
With essays on Hepburn and Garbo, to David Foster Wallace, from an Academy Award weekend in Los Angeles to E.M. Forster, Roland Barthes, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom McCarthy and a great deal more, and with a tone from travel documentary to insightful literary analysis, and most everything in between, Zadie Smith has offered us the opportunity to see how her mind works, and how she not only permits herself to change it, but even makes that her motto, shall we say. There’s some very good writing here, and some, on the other hand, a bit difficult to get through, but well worth the effort required. Smith can be extraordinarily perceptive, subtle, keen, as well as, perhaps, naively hopeful, even silly, and that, in itself, is marvelous and refreshing, intellectually challenging and agreeably human.
Her long essay on David Foster Wallace, entitled “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: The Difficult Gifts of David Foster Wallace” is honestly excellent. (PR)
See our previous post on Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace and Tom McCarthy, entitled “The Last Audit – Review of David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” by Tom McCarthy“, here.
Smith prefaces her book, which is dedicated to her father, with the two following quotes:
“The time to make your mind up about people is never!” (Tracy Lord, played by Katherine Hepburn, in The Philadelphia Story (1940), also starring Cary Grant and James Stewart; directed by George Cukor.)
“You get to decide what to worship.” (David Foster Wallace)
Pankaj Mishra’s review of Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays, entitled “Other Voices, Other Selves” in the Sunday Book Review section of The New York Times, here.
Peter Conrad’s review of Smith’s book in The Guardian is aptly titled “Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith” and is found, here.
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