I started reading this with my full attention but it just wavered — to the point, I was skimming over the last pages because I lost interest and wanted to get to the end. Ali Smith’s writing style is loose and goes all over the place. Weaving and fusing and referencing texts and books and poems and everything. And yes, there is an appeal to that.
When I started I didn’t fully know what I was reading — whether I fully understood it, or that I was just supposed to feel it. There’s even a quote in the book that goes:
“It was good, that things didn’t have to mean. It was a relief. It was strangely intimate too, you speaking to me and me having no idea what you were saying.”
Smith’s ‘How to be both’ is similar in that it’s hard to follow — perhaps even more so for a non-native English speaker — but ‘How to be both’ had a much clearer narrative. And so halfway through ‘Artful’, the trust granted in the book evaporated. I really wanted to love this book but I didn’t, I got lost in the whirlwind instead.