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on 16 January 2011
In a style distinctly her own, Smith tells her story through scenes, shifting between several points of views before tying the incidents together neatly by connecting the seemingly isolated dots. In this case, upwards of eight characters are involved in a story that centers not only on a missing man, but also upon animal rights, environmentalism, the definition of emotions, and attempted communication with aliens. As with Alison Wonderland, she maintains that tongue-in-cheek tone that lends dry humor to the nonsensical musings and actions of the players in this existentialist-style performance.

With the initial take-off of the man in the inflatable house, the basis for the title seemed quite clear. In the end, however, it turns out that "being light" means much more than flying away in a child's playground; rather, it involves the struggle to let go faced by each of the characters in their various situations. The depth of the application is a stronger means of drawing together these seemingly unconnected people than the physical links of blood or employment or sex. In short, this philosophical bent allows this complex comedy to work, though I was still tempted at times to start diagramming the cast in order to remember who each member was.

In spite of its status as a sequel, Being Light does not draw too heavily from its predecessor, focusing instead on the story at hand. The small references did make me smile, but on the whole, I enjoyed the fact that the novel was self-contained, as it allowed for a rich literary experience without having to go back over all that happened in a previous work. The climax, or finale, rather, left me feeling much as I did after a recent viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail: amused, bemused, and a trifle curious because of its open-ended nature.

Overall, Smith shows a comfortable command of language, adjusting the pacing of her paragraphs with ease. The verbiage is complex without being overbearing, the dialogue witty despite a propensity towards absurdity. There were a handful of instances where a semicolon would have been more appropriate than the comma that was actually used, however, and there were several lines where it was difficult to tell what exactly the speaker was getting at. Then again, perhaps this is more of a testament to my own inattention or inability to follow the thoughts of people who are quite a ways off from the beaten path.

This book may be inappropriate for those who prefer a steady stream of action from a single point of view. There, I said it. For those who enjoy stretching their minds a bit further and piecing complex story arcs together, however, Being Light promises a pleasurable romp through the darkly humorous dealings of Smith's creations.

Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
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on 16 June 2013
'We don't give information about extraterrestrials, we collect it.'
'Do you know where I can get information?'
'We don't give information.'
'You won't even give me information about where to get information?'
'No.' - Being Light

I'd been saving this for a rainy day, because after reading Alison Wonderland, I knew that once I started reading this, I wouldn't be able to put down. Being Light didn't disappoint.

If I can describe Being Light in one word, it'd be surreal. Reading it, I felt like I'd been sucked into one of author Helen Smith's dreams and bounced from craziness to craziness. And what a ride it was.

Highly recommended.
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on 6 December 2001
When I read the short blurb inside the front cover I hesitated; it is a highly quirky plot when summarised, but actually it works rather well in the book.
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.
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on 22 July 2012
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. The engaging opening scene in Brixton's Brockwell Park is a prime example, from the moment when both plot and the protaganist lift off from the mundane, everyday world into something altogether... other!

It's packed full of involving characters and situations, and the writing zips along with some wonderful touches and great one-liners. "Men are like cigarettes - I only want one when I'm drunk..." is just one example that made me laugh and laugh. I recommend this for when you're looking for a pacy read that is also challengingly out of the ordinary. Good stuff!
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on 25 April 2011
When Roy Travers floats away in a bouncy castle and then wakes up in the care of a stranger, he assumes that he has died and gone to heaven. His wife, Sheila, assumes that aliens have abducted him. So, in addition to taking to wearing aluminum wrapping at the tip of her ears (to ensure that she makes herself available to any extraterrestrial messages) she also enlists the help of a private investigator, Alison (from Alison Wonderland), to help her track him down.

Helen Smith takes on an amusing journey into the minds of her absurd, colorful characters. This is a fun read that kept me on my toes. This is not a book I felt I could put down and then easily pick up again, simply because of the POV changes. The voice changed often and sometimes unexpectedly, from paragraph to paragraph. So, I read it in two sittings and enjoyed it immensely.
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on 8 December 2010
This was an interesting book. Right from the beginning Helen gets your attention, drawing you into the story. I found myself wanting to find out what would happen to Roy. Would he discover the truth? Being Light, like real life, takes people and events that are seemingly unrelated and twists them all together, showing us that everything is connected somehow. The lives of each of the characters started out looking like separate stories, that in the end, were neatly tied together. When I first finished the book, I thought it seemed a little unresolved. But after pondering it, I thought to myself that Sheila's reaction might be the same reaction I would have in that situation. In the end, each of the characters were shocked by what they found, and their reaction was realistic and uncomfortable. Helen did an excellent job of connecting the dots, so to speak. The writing is beautifully done, and entertaining throughout. I think anyone would enjoy reading this book.
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on 17 April 2001
This is a very funny book, with an underlying sadness. She writes about London and Londoners but she is also writing about loneliness, betrayal and lost love. If you like this book you will like her first one, Alison Wonderland, which shares some of the same characters and a similar light, witty style.
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on 16 February 2012
I read and loved Helen's previous book, Alison Wonderland and was delighted to be given a copy of Being Light. Just like the previous work, this book is highly entertaining, with the same quirky humour and wonderful prose as the first one. It held me spellbound right through, until the very end.

Highly recommended to lovers of unusual fiction.
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on 29 July 2013
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. I pretty much read the whole thing in one sitting, which is definitely a testament to Helen Smith's writing since I have the worst attention span in the world! Witty, yet with a poignant sadness. Recommend!
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on 12 February 2013
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.
Thanks for the read.
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