Winter (Seasonal #2)

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Title: Winter (Seasonal #2)

Writer: Ali Smith

Publishing House: Hamish Hamilton

Date of Publication: November 2nd 2017

Rating: 5 stars

‘’God was dead: to begin with.

And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead.

Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead.’’

Winter. I concluded my first reading experience in Ali Smith’s universe on a day when the centre of Athens was covered in snow. Sun and snow in the heart of the capital, the first in almost 20 years. During a break in my teaching sessions – because Zoom is still going strong, damn it!- I looked outside my window as the snow was falling. Silence and children’s laughter. And I thought, why does winter fascinate us so much? What is it that makes it so special? Does it bring us together or drive us apart? In Ali Smith’s moving masterpiece, both happen. As in life itself.

‘’It can do this because it’s midwinter, which is a time of year when children and gods are meant to meet, when a child can speak to gods and gods are meant to listen, a time that’s about children and gods being related.’’

Sophie, Iris, Art, Lux. Four people trying to spend Christmas Day as peacefully as they can, trying to remain unscathed by their reluctant interaction. Small chance, really. Two sisters, as different as day and night, and two strangers that decided to follow one another, each one obeying a special motive. Memories come and go, past anger and regrets come to the surface. Who are they? What are they looking for? Where will this search end? Why don’t we listen but remain too much in love with our own voice? Moving back and forth to an eventful past and a frighteningly uncertain present, Ali Smith’s characters share their thoughts on age and obligations, dreams and reality, ghosts and the people that pass by in a flash, freedom and revolution and propriety. Love and anger.

 In a world where money is all there is because we chose to make it so, in a country where Brexit is a reality, in a time when a madman enters the White House, one may feel like a piece of stone, heavy and still. Do we let others create a sculpture of us, projecting their image on ourselves? Or do we CHOOSE to grab the tools and break the mold? After the attack on the Capitol by a bunch of uneducated bigots/racists/all-around barbarians obeying a monster, the final pages in Smith’s masterpiece became all the more poignant.

‘’It’s winter, still. There’s no snow. There’s been almost none all winter. It’ll be one of the warmest winters on record, again.

   Still, it’s colder in some places than others.

This morning there was frost on the ridges of the turned earth across the fields, frost the sun had melted on one side only.

Art in nature.’’