Smith takes readers on a wild ride in ‘Grand Union’

Molly Sprayregen

AP – Acclaimed author Zadie Smith’s Grand Union is an enchanting collection that examines the complexity of contemporary life. This book of short stories, the author’s first, refuses to define itself as any one thing. Instead, Smith allows each story to take on a tone, genre and life of its own.

The book moves between narrative-driven stories and unique experimental pieces. In one, Smith takes readers on a journey through a metaphor masquerading as a lazy river. In another, she dissects a child’s “Narrative Techniques” worksheet in a way that will make readers begin to see meaning in places they never before thought to look.

In others still, readers meet an individual fighting for equal treatment inside a corset emporium, a couple in the throes of an addiction-triggered divorce, a jaded family watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and a train rider who contemplates the way headphones allow people to turn themselves off to the world.

The stories can be heavy, yet they also take on a tone of slight whimsy that makes them feel both real and fantastical all at once, the same way that these days, reality so often feels.