The First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith: Writ

the first person and other stories

I love the premise in Writ! In it, the protagonist is a forty-something bisexual woman. After being passionately kissed by a young woman – albeit a total stranger – in broad daylight in the middle of London, the protagonist comes home to find her fourteen-year-old self waiting for her!

Although the protagonist is beyond happy to see her younger self, she is not sure how to act around her. She wonders if she should give her any advice – “who to trust and who not to trust; who her real good friends are and who’s going to fuck her over; who to sleep with, and who definitely not to,” – that sort of thing. And if she should tell her not to worry about Mom, assure her that she’ll do alright at university, maybe even prepare her in a way that she wouldn’t be confused by her bisexuality.

But when she sees her fourteen-year-old self sitting in her kitchen “thin and insolent and complete,” she realizes she can’t say any of it to her.

It’d be terrible to proffer a friend she hasn’t met yet who then turns out not to be a friend, or a left-wing government that turns out not to be. Terrible to tell her, now, about a crushed mudguard one afternoon in 1984. It’s somehow terrible even to suggest she’ll go to university.

Instead, she tries to reconnect with her old-self by talking about the things she used to love when Smith, in a poignant manner, reveals to us that the past the narrator remembers is different from the fourteen-year-old self’s present! 4 stars.

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