Changing My Mind
Occasional EssaysBook - 2009
Split into five sections-Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering- Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting an acute eye over material both personal and cultural. This engaging collection of essays-some published here for the first time- reveals Smith as a passionate and precise essayist, equally at home in the world of great books and bad movies, family and philosophy, British comedians and Italian divas. Whether writing on Katharine Hepburn, Kafka, Anna Magnani, or Zora Neale Hurston, she brings deft care to the art of criticism with a style both sympathetic and insightful. Changing My Mind is journalism at its most expansive, intelligent, and funny-a gift to readers and writers both.
How did George Eliot's love life affect her prose? Why did Kafka write at three in the morning? In what ways is Barack Obama like Eliza Doolittle? Can you be overdressed for the Oscars? What is Italian feminism? If Roland Barthes killed the Author, can Nabokov revive him? What does "soulful" mean? Is Date Movie the worst film ever made?
Smith's questioning spirit passes these concerns and many more through a personal lens, creating a critcism that is scholarly but never solely academic, rigorous without turning dogmatic. Among the essays collected here: an account of a week in war-ravaged Liberia, a candid assessment of the strengths and flaws of E.M. Forster, a polemical discussion of two warring trends in the contemporary novel and a moving appreciation of the work and thought of David Foster Wallace. Here also are memoirs and movie reviews advice on the craft of writing and how to resolve a nightmare family Christmas, Iris Murdoch-style. Uniting the whole, a refreshing generosity of spirit and a bracing sense of humour.
Changing My Mind is journalism at its most expansive, intelligent and funny-a gift to readers and writers both. Within its covers an essay is more than a column of opinions; it's a space in which to think freely.