I don't read much fiction but when I see that an author I am curious about has written a collection of essays, I like to give them a try. So I picked up Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith. She is a prize-winning writer of quite a few short stories, five novels, and a smattering of non-fiction pieces.
I have not read any of her work, but I have seen the film adaption of her novel White Teeth. Although, now, I am not quite sure how I came to watch it.
Ms. Smith writes in the forward to this book of essays, all of which appear to be quite long, that it is compiled of pieces written at particular times for different editors. So we have thoughts on Katherine Hepburn (an idol of Ms. Smith's), a look at George Eliot and Middlemarch, a recollection of Smith family Christmases, and her diary of a brief trip to Liberia. One called That Crafty Feeling contains her guidelines on the writing craft. (I might start with that one...)
The essays are broken into sections of Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering. I suppose just to give the disparate pieces some sort of structure at least.
I gleaned the above just by flipping through the book's pages and reading bits here and there. I got the book yesterday and haven't read even one of the pieces, so I hope I have a lot to look forward to.
If you have any thoughts on Ms. Smith and her work, I would be happy to hear them.
In other news:
I don't usually provide links to online stories but there were two this week that I thought might interest you.
One concerns a daring $2.5 million rare book heist near Heathrow Airport that took place in January (but I am just now discovering it) and what impact it might have. The disturbing speculation is that the antiquarian books will be cut up for their maps, illustrations, and engravings as the books themselves would be difficult for the thieves to sell. Horrors!
Here: Book Heist
The other is a fascinating piece by Icelandic author Ragan Jonasson on translating Agatha Christie. Over the years he has translated 14 of her mysteries and become a mystery writer himself in the process. I really must look up the two-word clue mentioned in Lord Edgeware Dies. Mr. Jonasson states in the article that it took him ten years to settle on a suitable translation of it.
Here: Agatha Christie