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‘Remember you must live.
Remember you most love.
Remainder you mist leaf.’
I ended up attending a book club again. Maybe it was the cake or the opportunity to discuss Ali Smith’s Hotel World that led me to the basement of an independent bookshop, but there I was holding my copy of Hotel World and eyeing a Whole Foods cake. This novel is one of my favourites, Hotel World is brilliant: five sections about five women, one of whom is dead, and it’s set at the same global hotel branch. Smith skillfully traces the characters’ paths and where they intersect. The final section is a stream-of-consciousness from Clare (Sara Wilby’s younger sister) which is reminiscent of Woolf or Joyce. Here are five quotes from Hotel World:
‘Else wonders where her head would go, if she could take it off and hold it in her hands and then fling it up and set it flying, leaving her chest and her stomach and her legs and her waving-goodbye arms, her head soaring by itself up past the huddles of freezing starlings. The sky would open. The roof of it would come off. She would be so careful up there. She would avoid aeroplanes.’ 67
‘It is much easier to picture her from the photographs in the papers and TV than to try to remember. The photographs in the papers and on TV seem to have wiped Lise’s memory of the real Sara Wilby even cleaner.’ 110
‘Time is notoriously deceptive. Everybody knows this (though it is one of the easier things to forget).’ 103
‘At the bottom of the shaft, colourless in the dark, there was a shoe and a crumpled uniform, both still warm, both going cold. There were three or four coins, maybe more. There was a broken clock. Its plastic shell was shattered and its face was in bits.’ 154
‘& since I will always know off by heart I will not forget the sound of you breathing in the dark & since there was the night when I was eleven when they played the old song about the long and winding road on the radio & for some reason I don’t know why it made me frightened that the earth was full of dead people even the earth round the flowers outside in the garden though I didn’t say anything I was in bed you were in the other bed you said what’s wrong are you scared you knew I was without me having to say anything’ 219
You can find Hotel World here.