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I picked it up in college, along with the unabridged Clarissa and a taste for port.Ultimately, Natalie’s story suggests a certain type of domestic tragedy, as her internal struggles propel her toward wayward behavior—in this case, comic internet-arranged sex romps.
Words meander and shape-shift across the page; characters come and go.
The novel’s best moments aren’t its fractured bits — in fact, it slows when it comes to these onomatopoeic sections that read like the city speaking.
In’ speaking in Tongues’ a recent address given by Zadie Smith in New York, in part concerned with the election of Barack Obama as President, Smith identifies and locates herself in terms of accent and class, thereby exhibiting, as she admits in this essay, a characteristically English obsession.
Smith notes that she left university with a changed ‘posher’ accent adopted so that she might feel confident about being regarded by others as intellectually credible.
Willesden was a big, colorful, working-class sea; Cambridge was a smaller, posher pond, and almost univocal; the literary world is a puddle.’ Clearly there is suggested here a transitional set of affiliations, even a shift of identity perhaps, both of a particularly English kind. In so doing, part of my focus will be Smith’s evocations of Englishness, both cultural and literary aspects, as expressed in her writing generally and in certain specific ruminations about her life.
Although initially she sustained two voice registers, she admits that her re-voiced accent has subsumed her earlier more working class one.
‘Recently my double voice has deserted me for a single one, reflecting the smaller world into which my work has led me.
In short, the novel’s strengths spring mostly from the writer’s use of traditional elements, and from continuity — not on its attractive, yet unmastered use of narrative fissures.
The effect of this style is a searching, indecisive quality.