Girl Meets Boy (2007): Ali Smith


People have been telling me to read Ali Smith for years, but I haven’t yet got round to any of her novels, not even How to Be Both, which has been urged enthusiastically on me by my friend I. However, I hope to exculpate myself now, because I’ve finally embarked on Smith’s oeuvre in the form of Girl Meets Boy, one of the Canongate Myths series. I found it charming, if not overwhelming: it’s a sweet story of first love and how to have courage; a dreamlike tale of how we love most truly when we love the person rather than the outward shell. Based on Ovid’s story of Iphis, it uses the Scottish city of Inverness as the stage on which to thumb its nose at gender norms.

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The Goddess Chronicle (2008): Natsuo Kirino


Back when the Canongate Myths series was introduced in 2005, I bought the first three in a boxed set and swore I’d read all of them as they were published. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. And so, when I realised that Natsuo Kirino (whose Grotesque I admired) had contributed a story to the series, it was a welcome chance to catch up. Retelling the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanaki, this is an eerie tale of joy and sorrow, light and darkness, love and vengeance.

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