It’s always fascinating to see the world through the eyes of someone you admire. Intimations by Zadie Smith uses the time she has spent thus far under a cloud of COVID -19 to highlight the privileges and complications of such which she has experienced. The book is composed of six essays, which can be seen as more reflections of times past and times current through her lens. They are not to be read hastily but instead ruminated upon in a manner that causes one to absorb the words truly.
To not spoil the book, I will not go into the details of each essay. I will, however, share a few of my favorite lines.
The misery is very precisely designed and different for each person, and if you didn’t know better, you’d say the gods of comedy and tragedy had a hand in it.
Isn’t that the truth of what we face in our dealings of COVID. It’s as if the things we always long for we suddenly have in abundance and are more equipped to handle. We are now placed in the heightened state of each of our distinct situations, causing stress we didn’t know we’d have to deal with. She goes on to explain.
The single human in the city apartment thinks I have never known such loneliness. The married human, in the country place with a partner and children, dreams of isolation within isolation. All the artists with children – who treasured isolation as the most precious thing they owned – find out what it is to live without privacy and without time.
Her words speak a truth we didn’t know existed until now.
In another essay, The American Exception, she begins with a statement many of us heard in the news.
He speaks truth so rarely that when you hear it from its own mouth – March 29, 2020 – it has the force of revelation: ” I wish we could have our old life back. We had the greatest economy that we’ve ever had, and we didn’t have death.” Well, maybe not the whole unvarnished truth. The first clause was neither true nor false: it described only a desire. A desire which when I heard it – and found its bleating echo in myself – I’ll admit I weighed it in my hand for a moment, like a shiny apple.
I’ll stop there because there is so much to unpack in the mere six pages that follow these statements.
Zadie’s constant state of attentiveness and exploration of the human experience is a gift to us all and should be regaled as such. She humbles me. I appreciate her talent, and I invite you to do the same.
I give my book review of Intimations 5/5.
Looking for more books? Check out my previous review of Worlds Afire HERE!