Being Light Paperback – 23 May 2012
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Richly praised for her first cult novel Alison Wonderland, Helen Smith's second novel, Being Light will delight those readers who admired the elegance and deadpan surrealism of her debut novel. In the weird world of Helen Smith, Being Light begins straightforwardly enough. Roy Travers is setting up a bouncy castle in Brixton, south London, when a freak gust of wind carries him far off into the sky. Roy plummets back to earth after a puncture to his castle. As he hurtles earthwards "dying and falling are indistinguishable to Roy in his final moments. He wakes in the arms of an angel. She isn't beautiful, although she is wearing white and she's soft and comforting". But all is most certainly not what it seems--least of all Roy's "angel".
The consequences of Roy's disappearance immerse the reader in a complicated and zany cast of characters, that includes Sheila, Roy's wife, who is convinced that aliens have kidnapped her husband; Mrs. Latimer, an animal trainer planning to use experimental drugs on the male population to turn them into pets, and the angelic eco-warrior Jeremy, with his mantra, "I'm going to stop the traffic". This is just a taste of the wacky characters assembled by Smith in a novel that is simply indefinable. At one moment it's a comedy of urban London people and manners, at the next moment a surreal mystery, and at other times a parody of urban environmentalism. Its parts do not necessarily lead up to a truly satisfying whole, but Smith is a wonderfully original and inventive writer who never bores her readers. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Imagine a satire on Cool Britannia made by the Coen Brothers... very funny. --Times Literary Supplement
The ordinary and the unusual are constantly juxtaposed in various idiosyncratic characters... Its airy quirkiness is a delight. --The Times
A screwball comedy that really works. --The Independent
She is a great snapper-up of unconsidered trifles... Wicked! --Time Out
Smith's second novel has a comic style with a clear, simple, buoyant prose. --Irish Independent
Top Customer Reviews
Basically the whole thing is several character studies (quite a lot in fact) that build up to make the story, and sometimes it is satirical and mildly tongue-in-cheek. Although the amount of characters which the book centres on is probably too high, the plot is oddly compelling and the way everything fits together is quite clever. Each character is conveyed very well in their speech and actions, and the text never becomes boring; it even approaches the issue of eternal and finite time, and caused me to think quite a lot about this. Personally I don't like stories that are written in the present tense, but I'll have to make an exception for this one - it gives a more lightweight tone and sometimes accentuates the irony of the characters' behaviour.
A very interesting book then, rather quirky, but clever and always compelling.
If you have read any of Helen Smith's books before, and enjoyed them, but you have not read this one, then I urge you to get it. If you have read none of Helen Smith's books before then I urge you to start now. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
There are a lot of characters in this book and a lot of storylines, and at first you wonder how these are in any way related. That is the beauty of a Helen Smith book, you know it will all come together beautifully.
I loved this book. I love Helen Smith's humour, her style of writing, and her sharp wit. This is so cleverly well written - like a surrealist work of art! I just giggled and laughed my way through this with complete and utter enjoyment.
In `Being Light' the author introduces new characters in addition to some of those who were lucky enough survive past the end of the first story. All the characters are observed through Helen Smith's `satire-coloured spectacles' and are treated to her particular brand of quirky social comment. `Being Light' is a sequel only in the sense that Alison continues her search for a satisfying relationship, while juggling parental responsibilities and her work for the detective agency. The rest of the story explores the lives and motivations of a curiously connected group of individuals, as a backdrop to solving the mystery of a disappearing husband. Each character displays a remarkable ability to drift full sail on the wind of fate, while striving to impose his or her will on an all too resilient destiny.
In reading `Being Light', I missed the mad-cap humour of `Alison Wonderland' but in its place I found a more closely controlled building of tension, especially in the second half of the novel. It is a subtly compelling page-turner and I had to keep restraining myself from peeking to find out if, in the last chapter, the errant Roy met with disaster or redemption. I cannot of course spoil the fun by giving even the tiniest hint...
Being Light begins with a wonderfully visual and surreal scene - Roy Travers and his friend realise that they haven't done a particularly good job of securing a bouncy castle when Roy is swept away on it by a freak gust of wind. As he drifts higher and further away, he comes to the realisation that he is going to die...just before he plummets back to earth.
His wife Sheila refuses to believe that he is dead, but can't understand why he can't find his way home to her. Eventually she concludes that he must have been abducted by aliens, and enlists the help of both a detective agency (the one that Alison works for) and tin foil caps on her ears, just in case the aliens try to communicate with her.
This is an extremely character-led book. Everyone has their flaws and eccentricities, and surreal as they may seem at times they also manage to be totally believable and lifelike.
Being Light definitely has the same, quirky style as Alison Wonderland - Helen Smith has a wonderfully whimsical style of writing that I absolutely love, but this story has far more depth and underlying sadness with less of the madcap romping in Alison.
It's not completely without it's madness though - although the psychic postman has been sacked, and Jeff has moved far away from Alison's basement, he has been replaced by Harvey who works in advertising and feels the need to give everything definite labels in order to categorise life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having recently read and LOVED Alison Wonderland, I opened this novel and expected more of the same fast paced insanity that I so enjoyed. Read morePublished 15 months ago by TwoFromTx
I read Alison Wonderland and loved it so of course I had to read Being Light. Another fabulous, quirky story from Helen Smith. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2013 by Babzzarella
Dear author, indeed, as I cannot imagine too many people finding it worth the effort to hold a book or e-reader up to pursue the arduous task of assimilating this lightweight load... Read morePublished on 22 Sept. 2013 by Headley J. des Forges
The quirky blurb of Being Light enticed me into what was actually a cleverly woven story in it's own right. The characters are interesting and the mystery element compelling. Read morePublished on 29 July 2013 by Red Newsom
'We don't give information about extraterrestrials, we collect it.'
'Do you know where I can get information?'
'We don't give information. Read more
This was a joy to hold in my hands. The pace is light but intriguing and I found the characters inviting. I look forward to reading the authors other stories. Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2013 by Dean Robinson
This lady author is new to me and I've never read anything quite like her before. The strength of BL is taking utterly recognisable situations and turning them on their head. Read morePublished on 22 July 2012 by christuart
It is unlikely Being Light is anything like any book you've read before. There are multiple casts of characters, which in the beginning seem unrelated. Read morePublished on 24 April 2012 by BigAl
I read and loved Helen's previous book, Alison Wonderland and was delighted to be given a copy of Being Light. Read morePublished on 16 Feb. 2012 by Suzy