I'm a lucky duck who got to see+hear Zadie Smith in person tonight. She was every bit as charming as I expected. She and Eleanor Wachtel had a great chat, but the part that really stood out to me was the role that Smith said 'found objects' play in her work, whether it's a real person who ends up an influential force in her novel (Jeni LeGon in Swing Time) or a peculiar name, borrowed from a real person. It was liberating to hear her say this, as someone who often feels ashamed by my own hidden stash of "objects", garnered throughout my quest to create "lies that tell a deeper truth".
I'm two-thirds of the way through Zadie Smith's new novel Swing Time, which may be the best exploration of female friendship and motherhood I've ever read. In typical Smith fashion, there are shimmery jewels of prose and dialogue glinting from every page. One of my favourite characters in the book is the unnamed protagonist's father, a man who cannot help but love a woman who does not respect his mind, and who adores the duties imposed on a good parent. This statement, made by the protagonist about her father, felt like a knee to the heart:
The thing I feared was no longer my parents' authority over me but that they might haul out into the open their own intimate fears, their melancholy and regrets.