Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Nashville Special: Zadie Smith Swings Into Town

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If you’re a fan of author Zadie Smith, I bet you’ve already got your ticket for her reading and conversation with Ann Patchett this Thursday at Belmont University, part of the Salon@615 series. If you don’t, this post is for you: who’s Zadie, and why might you want to spend an hour in her company?  (Bonus: for Bacon Reader Special, see end of post.)

Zadie Smith has enjoyed a steady rise in public and critical acclaim over the last decade and a half for novels including White Teeth (2002), On Beauty (2005), NW (2012), and most recently, Swing Time (2016). Born in London to a Jamaican mother and English father, she’s for sure a hot ticket in the literary world, especially right now: “[T]he fandom she generates is uniquely reverential; it feels closer to that of a movie star (a very civilized one) than to an author,” writes Marta Bausells at Lithub.

If you aren’t one of the reverent fans, there are still three great reasons you might want to spend some time with her this Thursday… 

One:  Several years ago, The Guardian interviewed authors about the “golden rules they bring to their writing practice.” Zadie’s smart, tough, thoughtful (and the first – funny) answers make me think I’d enjoy an hour in her company:  

1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

3. Don’t romanticise your “vocation.” You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.

4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.

5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.

6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.

7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.

8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

9. Don’t confuse honours with achievement.

10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

Two:  Check out Laura Cooper’s Bacon review of Swing Time (“Swing Time and Our Myths of Women’s Friendship”), Maria Browning’s review at Chapter 16.org (“Fate of a Friendship: Zadie Smith’s Swing Time looks at female love and cruelty.”), and the Parnassus website. Again: the feeling you get is that an hour with Zadie Smith would be an hour well spent. 

Three:  My Curry on the Counter girlfriends find a new curry place for us to try each month. We’ve been in some strip malls way outside my zip code as well as the hip spot everyone knows about (Chauhan Ale & Masala House). Going to hear an author you don’t know is the same thing: grab a friend, make your world a bigger place.

Zadie will read and join Ann Patchett in conversation as part of the Salon@615 series at Belmont’s McAfee Concert Hall at 6:15pm this Thursday, January 19th.  You can certainly purchase a ticket through Salon@615 for $31.50, which includes a signed copy of the book. BACON READER SPECIAL: for $5, you can come to the event without an obligation to buy the book (though books will be available for purchase if you wish).  Here’s the link for the Bacon Reader Special. (Note: this is not just for students.)

Please forward this post to anyone who might be interested!  It would be wonderful to welcome Zadie with a big warm Nashville crowd.  

One Comment

  1. Great post!! I especially enjoyed her “golden rules,” which I plan to implement. 🙂 I already have my ticket. My sister and I are going, and I’m so looking forward to it! See you there!

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