Monday, August 5, 2019

Human Nature

SpringSpring by Ali Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Testament, indictment, plea? It's amazing how a British author writing about European refugee camps depicts the situation in America's detention centers described today. It's either a plot of the left or right or a description of human nature. The book opens with horrid Twitter ranting, an irrepressible muddy stream of consciousness description of media influence in the modern world; once you get past that, if you can, there's the story of Richard, a filmmaker who's grieving the loss of a friend, a muse; he's also grieving his youth and lost chances. There's Brit, who works in that place, that "detention center", a person just trying to get by. There's the story of how their stories intersect, an adventure. There's a mysterious young girl who seems to achieve miracles by speaking truth to power. There's mystery, hope, despair, resolution. There's a lot of buttons pushed in your internal psyche, as the author intends. Smith forces you to deal with the fact that the conditions that created World War II are even more active in the current world. And the unavoidable realization that if you look at history with open eyes and heart, the majority of us are the descendants of victims, persecutors, survivors, and collaborators. What choices will we make in our lives, whose descendants will judge us? Who are we, in our choices, in our souls? Just ordinary people, trying to get by.
(*I received an advance copy from Norton for review; much gratitude and consternation followed, as you've just read.)

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