For the fourth instalment of Reading Alone Together, Madeleine Braun and I discussed “Writ,” from Ali Smith’s collection The First Person and Other Stories, published in 2008. Madeleine and I decided to record our interview, and I would like to thank her for her insightful commentary and for her patience with my rookie knowledge of GarageBand.
To offer some context for our interview, “Writ” is narrated in the first-person by a forty-something year-old woman who comes home one day to find her fourteen-year-old self.
Last week someone, a girl, a woman I hardly know (now when does a girl become a woman? when exactly do we stop being girls?) turned towards me as we walked along a busy street, backed me expertly up against the wall of a builder’s restoration of a row of old shops in the middle of London in broad daylight and kissed me. The kiss, out of nowhere, took me by surprise. When I got home that night my fourteen-year-old self was roaming about in my house, knocking into things, wild-eyed and unpredictable as a blunt-nosed foal.
“Writ” is comprised of a conversation between the narrator and the fourteen-year-old and the memories and realizations that their discourse evokes. As articulated in last week’s introduction, “Writ” begs several questions about the way in which individual identity influences interpersonal relationships. Does female community and friendship begin at a level of the self? Is the self unified? Can we be friends with ourselves?
A free copy of the story can be found here on page 68.
ABOUT MADELEINE BRAUN:
OCCUPATION:Student, Server and Writer living in Halifax by way of Winnipeg
FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD BOOK: Goodnight Moon
FAVOURITE PLACE TO READ: In bed
AUTHOR YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT BECAUSE SHE/HE IS REALLY GREAT: I don’t read that much obscure literature; I tend to stick to the classics and popular contemporary fiction. Noteworthy writers and books that currently inspire me include: Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and his short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro; Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom; Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are?; and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Listen to Madeleine and Esmé’s conversation here
Epigraph to Ali Smith’s The First Person and Other Stories