How to be both – Ali Smith

How to be bothHow to be both is my second book in my Man Booker shortlist read, and also the second coming of age book. This meant I already felt a bit jaded about it from the first chapter, and then it compared poorly against We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Unfortunately it didn’t improve from that low bar.

The structure is two distinct halves, the first a fairly mediocre coming of age story, and then it takes a surreal twist that I found difficult to both catch up to what was happening and believe in. As a fantasy fan this takes quite some doing.  I also found the writing style (probably intended to impress serious literature experts) clumsy and faintly disorientating, and some of the more abstract parts were more impenetrable to me.

Its stuffed full of references, links and metaphor which should be fascinating, but I just couldn’t get past the writing style to appreciate it.


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