In Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith reinterprets the Myth of Iphis, the girl who became a boy, as a brilliant hybrid of satire and romantic comedy.
Anthea works at Pure, helping men with shaved heads think up brand names for water: call it Affluent, she suggests. Or Main Stream. She is not, truth be told, completely focused. Until she sees the boy up the ladder, spray-painting the company billboard:
WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT, she reads. SELLING IT IS MORALLY WRONG.
The boy up the ladder, dressed in a kilt and sporran. A bright red tartan; a black waistcoat. Frilly cuffs. He is the most beautiful boy Anthea has ever seen in her life. No, look again. She is the most beautiful boy Anthea has ever seen in her life.
This is a warm, funny, subversive romp through the murky hinterland of corporate perfidy, by an author the Scotsman has described as 'one of our greatest imaginative writers'.
Girl Meets Boy is Ali Smith's contribution to the International Myths Series.
Ali Smith's first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award. She has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker, and won the Encore Award and the Whitbread Novel of the Year.
‘An extremely readable, easy-flowing writer, and one of the subtlest and most intelligent around.’ Independent
‘Ali Smith has got style, ideas and punch. Read her.’ Jeanette Winterson
‘A typically exuberant anti-consumerist tale, which has something of Ovid’s erotic lilt to it. …This slender, sweet natured, lyrical tale not only nods but also winks and grins at the many books it could not have been written without.’ Guardian
‘Those familiar with Smith’s playfully inventive fictions will not be disappointed by this light-as-air retelling of Ovid’s tale…The latest in a series retelling myths from classical literature, this jolly jeu d’espirit wears its heart defiantly on its sleeve.’ The Times
Veteran British novelist Smith returns from 2006's Whitbread Award winner The Accidental with a cheerful, sexy, disorienting take on the gender-shifting myths of Iphis (as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses). Fragile, rootless Anthea arrives at the Inverness, Scotland, offices of the slick, multibrand corporate behemoth Pure, where her up-and-coming sister Midge has gotten her a job. Raised on their grandfather's strange stories of rebellion and gender switching, the sisters undergo very different transformations when confronting Pure oblivion, the corporation's goal of being simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. Drifting at work, Anthea meets kilt-clad graffiti artist Robin, who awakens destructive passions within her. Midge, meanwhile, is summoned to Pure's London headquarters by Keith, the charismatic boss of bosses, and her meeting with him sets her on an unexpected course with the company. Smith's spare and sharp lyricism makes the action secondary, but the ironies that arise from the corporate setting for a very old myth are handled with glee (including jabs at water supply privatization), and Smith's cadences, which read like classical drama, carry the novel along beautifully.