Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Am reading Zadie Smith's new book, The Autograph Man. The reviews I've read have been lukewarm, some even tending to the chilly (ouch, Michiko Kakutani), but it's a fun read so far—not as dizzyingly brilliant as White Teeth, but more purposeful, more thoughtful, & displaying that unmistakeable Smithian verve. Halfway through, I feel I have something personally at stake in the spiritual quest of the lead, Alex-Li Tandem (an autograph collector, a man whose identity is defined by other people's names on little bits of paper). He thinks he's in search of an obscure, elderly Hollywood actress he's idolised since boyhood; I'm hoping & suspecting he'll find something rather greater in the end. Threads of meaning from Jewish Kabbalah are woven through Alex-Li's story; I'm intrigued by the pattern that seems to be emerging.

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