By Ali Smith
Pantheon, $25.00, 236 pages

There But For The is award-winning Scottish author, Ali Smith’s, latest release. Smith’s novel is creatively centered, albeit loosely, around character Miles Garth who attends an upscale dinner party. Halfway through the dinner and trite conversations, unnoticed by the other guests, Miles stealthily swipes a set of silverware and a salt and pepper shaker then excuses himself from the table. He heads to the second floor of his hosts’ home and remains there for months locked in a spare bedroom requesting vegetarian meals via a note slipped under the door. The Lee’s home and surrounding area take on a circus like atmosphere as the media and curious onlookers quickly invade the area.

The story is broken up into four sections, reminiscent of short stories, focusing on individuals who had limited contact with Miles over the years. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that no one really knows much about this man or his motives.

The novel is cleverly designed and filled with witty puns and various wordplay elements that at first are entertaining, however, as you near the end of the book this overwrought style becomes more annoying than entertaining. This reader quickly observed the author’s exclusion of any quotation marks. Considering the plethora of dialogue this book contains it made reading challenging and understanding difficult at times. If you are a fan of books with non-linear plots, intriguing characters but unresolved endings then you’ll probably enjoy There But For The.

Reviewed by Kimberly Logan-Elwell

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