by Celeste Ng
The dozen stories in The First Person, Ali Smith’s latest collection, are deceptively simple: no verbal pyrotechnics, no otherworldly setting, no last-minute epiphanies, and most of the time, no traditional rising action or climax. They’re told in a simple, conversational tone, often by a narrator who could be Ali Smith herself. But they stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them. They sneak up on you, camouflaged as innocuous little anecdotes about innocuous little interactions and misunderstandings, and only later do you realize they’re asking the most fundamental questions that fiction, or life itself, can ask.