Public Library by Ali Smith

Public Library and Other Stories - Ali Smith

I’m not going to write a long review for Public Library as I posted my thoughts as I read the individual stories, but I’ll give you my overall impression.


Funnily enough I picked up Public Library when I was in the library. It’s a short story collection and my first encounter, but definitely not my last, with Ali Smith.


This collection was seemingly put together in protest of the under funding of our public services, here in the UK. Since 2008 the country has been the subject of austerity and libraries are suffering hugely because of it. Either their funding is being cut or they’re shutting down. Interspersed between each story is a real account of how libraries have affected individuals. I liked these snippets as they helped to remind the reader what the collection was really all about.


Because I haven’t previously read any of Ms Smiths books I can’t comment on whether or not this collection was a good example of her work, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed my first encounter with her. I loved the whimsical style, her frequent rumination and depicting of words and her ability to really see inside of a situation. I was particularly impressed with how she can craft a story from a fragment of an event and shape it until it really means something.


I liked some stories better than others, particularly the first one about a disabled woman stranded on a train. The last one was very memorable as well, where she likened a friend who had died to a stolen piece of art.


Even though there are some stories I will likely not remember in time, the collection as a whole created an impression on me and I’m eager to read more of her work.