The First Person and other stories by Ali Smith: I Know Something You Don’t Know

the first person and other stories

I Know Something You Don’t Know is a story about Anthony, a little boy suffering from a mysterious illness. Anthony had come home during lunch hour at school one day four months ago and hasn’t been able to leave his bed since then. His mother, Harriet has taken him to see multiple doctors. But none of them had been able to tell her what’s wrong with Anthony despite doing tests which cost her a small fortune.

Now out of desperation, Harriet decides to try alternative medicines to help her ailing son. Yellow pages on Complementary Therapies gives her a lot of unorthodox options from inner journey Indian head massages to Hopi candle ear wax removal, and she seeks the services of two women – Nicole, whose advertisement reads “Trust Me,” and Karen, a qualified registered therapist who promises to provide “outstanding accurate understanding.”

Out of the two women, Nicole turns out to be a con artist. Nicole charges Harriet £50 up front to say she has no clue what’s wrong with Anthony and runs away with Harriet’s stuff while she is not looking. Although it feels like Karen, a twenty-five-year-old who visits Harriet’s home on crutches would be the same she does a tarot reading for Anthony for free.

I don’t believe in fortune telling, so was rolling my eyes when I got to the part where Karen explains the meaning of cards Harriet had picked. But the way Ali Smith depicts Anthony’s improvement a month later was a bit similar to one of Karen’s card readings, so I’m not sure if that’s what the title of this story I Know Something You Don’t Know means. 2 stars.

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