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by Ali Smith

Hardcover, 339 pages, Pantheon, List Price: $25.95 |


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Ali Smith

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The Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and Winter presents a highly anticipated third entry in a celebrated series of stand-alone, metaphorically interconnected novels.

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Spring

Now what we don't want is Facts. What we want is bewilderment. What we want is repetition. What we want is repetition. What we want is people in power saying the truth is not the truth. What we want is elected members of parliament saying knife getting heated stuck in her front and twisted things like bring your own noose we want governing members of parliament in the house of commons shouting kill yourself at opposition members of parliament we want powerful people saying they want other powerful people chopped up in bags in my freezer we want muslim women a joke in a newspaper column we want the laugh we want the sound of that laugh behind them everywhere they go. We want the people we call foreign to feel foreign we need to make it clear they can't have rights unless we say so. What we want is outrage offence distraction. What we need is to say thinking is elite knowledge is elite what we need is people feeling left behind disenfranchised what we need is people feeling. What we need is panic we want subconscious panic we want conscious panic too. We need emotion we want righteousness we want anger. We need all that patriotic stuff. What we want is same old Scandal Of The Alcoholic Mothers Danger Of The Daily Aspirin but with more emergency Nein Nein Nein we need a hashtag #linedrawn we want Give Us What We Want Or We'll Walk we want fury we want outrage we want words at their most emotive antisemite is good nazi is great paedo will really do it perverted foreigner illegal we want gut reaction we want Age Test For 'Child Migrants' 98% Demand Ban New Migrants Gunships To Stop Migrants How Many More Can We Take Bolt Your Doors Hide Your Wives we want zero tolerance. We need news to be phone size. We need to bypass mainstream media. We need to look past the interviewer talk straight to camera. We need to send a very clear strong unmistakable message. We need newsfeed shock. We need more newsfeed shock come on quick next newsfeed shock pull the finger out we want torture images. We need to get to them we need them to think we can get to them get the word lynching to anyone not white. We want rape threats death threats 24/7 to black / female members of parliament no just women doing anything public anyone doing anything public we don't like we need How Dare She / How Dare He / How Dare They. We need to suggest the enemy within. We need enemies of the people we want their judges called enemies of the people we want their journalists called enemies of the people we want the people we decide to call enemies of the people called enemies of the people we want to say loudly over and over again on as many tv and radio shows as possible how they're silencing us. We need to say all the old stuff like it's new. We need news to be what we say it is. We need words to mean what we say they mean. We need to deny what we're saying while we're saying it. We need it not to matter what words mean. We need a good old slogan Britain no England / America / Italy / France / Germany / Hungary / Poland / Brazil / [insert name of country] First. We need the dark web money algorithms social media. We need to say we're doing it for freedom of speech. We need bots we need cliche we need to offer hope. We need to say it's a new era the old era's dead their time's over it's our time now. We need to smile a lot while we say it we need to laugh on camera ha ha ha thump man laughing his head off hear that factory whistle at the end of the day that factory's dead we're the new factory whistle we're what this country's needed all along we're what you need we're what you want.
What we want is need.
What we need is want.

That time again, is it? (Shrugs.)
None of it touches me. It's nothing but water and dust. You're nothing but bonedust and water. Good. More useful to me in the end.
I'm the child who's been buried in leaves. The leaves rot down: here I am.
Or picture a crocus in snow. See the ring of the thaw round the crocus? That's the door open into the earth. I'm the green in the bulb and the moment of split in the seed, the unfurl of the petal, the dabber of ends of the branches of trees with the green as if green is alight.
The plants that push up through the junk and the plastic, earlier, later, they're coming, regardless. The plants shift beneath you regardless, the people in sweatshops, the people out shopping, the people at desks in the light off their screens or scrolling their phones in the surgery waiting rooms, the protesters shouting, wherever, whatever the city or country, the light shifts, the flowers nod next to the corpseheap and next to the places you live and the places you drink yourselves stupid or happy or sad and the places you pray to your gods and the big supermarkets, the people on motorways speeding past verges and scrubland like nothing is happening. Everything is. The flowerheads open all over the flytip. The light shifts across your divides, round the people with passports, the people with money, the people with nothing, past sheds and canals and cathedrals, your airports, your graveyards, whatever you bury, whatever you dig up to call it your history or drill down to use up for money, the light shifts regardless.
The truth is a kind of regardless.
The winter's a nothing to me.
Do you think I don't know about power? You think I was born green?
I was.
Mess up my climate, I'll fuck with your lives. Your lives are a nothing to me. I'll yank daffodils out of the ground in December. I'll block up your front door in April with snow and blow down that tree so it cracks your roof open. I'll carpet your house with the river.
But I'll be the reason your own sap's reviving. I'll mainline the light to your veins.
What's under your road surface now?
What's under your house's foundations?
What's warping your doors?
What's giving your world the fresh colours? What's the key to the song of the bird? What's forming the beak in the egg?
What's sending the thinnest of green shoots through that rock so the rock starts to split?