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Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis (Myths) Hardcover – December 21, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1847670199 ISBN-10: 1847670199 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Myths
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate U.S.; First Edition edition (December 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847670199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847670199
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,284,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran British novelist Smith returns from 2006's Whitbread Award–winner The Accidental with a cheerful, sexy, disorienting take on the gender-shifting myths of Iphis (as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses). Fragile, rootless Anthea arrives at the Inverness, Scotland, offices of the slick, multibrand corporate behemoth Pure, where her up-and-coming sister Midge has gotten her a job. Raised on their grandfather's strange stories of rebellion and gender switching, the sisters undergo very different transformations when confronting Pure oblivion, the corporation's goal of being simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. Drifting at work, Anthea meets kilt-clad graffiti artist Robin, who awakens destructive passions within her. Midge, meanwhile, is summoned to Pure's London headquarters by Keith, the charismatic boss of bosses, and her meeting with him sets her on an unexpected course with the company. Smith's spare and sharp lyricism makes the action secondary, but the ironies that arise from the corporate setting for a very old myth are handled with glee (including jabs at water supply privatization), and Smith's cadences, which read like classical drama, carry the novel along beautifully. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The great thing about stories is that they can build their own walls and then let us walk right through them. Girl Meets Boy is a joyful celebration of life in all its strange shapes, on all sides of the wall.” –Jeanette Winterson, The Times

“A spritely love story that plays on notions of gender and sexuality to exuberant effect.” –The Observer

“Smith has done a splendid job. Alongside the touching love story are some perceptive insights on the ambiguities of gender. As fanciful as it is honest and as moving as it is hilarious, this is a gorgeous story.” –The London Paper

“An ecstatic, exhilarating helter-skelter ride of a story which shows just how relevant Ovid’s myth of the transformative power of love is to modern readers . . . [Smith's] Midge and Anthea are jean-clad demonstrations that myths aren’t about exotic gods but human experience.” –Financial Times

“It is clever, complex and thrilling . . . Girl Meets Boy delights because it refuses to stop at a single metamorphosis; despite its compactness, its stories multiply and rebound exuberantly, its echoes calling to one another across the pages.” –The Times Literary Supplement (TLS)

“Ali Smith bursts from the page with her fabulous retelling of the story of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Girl Meets Boy . . . pulls you in and doesn't let you go. . . . Smith's retelling is bold and brilliant–containing the best sex I've read in years.”One of Jackie Kay’s favourite books of 2007, The Observer

“From its arresting opening line to its exuberant ending, Girl Meets Boy is concerned with gender, love and transformation.”London Review of Books

“A cheerful, sexy, disorienting take on the gender-shifting myths of Iphis . . . Smith’s spare and sharp lyricism . . . are handled with glee . . . and Smith’s cadences, which read like classical drama, carry the novel along beautifully.”  –Publishers Weekly

“Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy might give you the inspiration you need to seek out love . . . [A] compact, rollicking novel . . . In Smith’s hands, Ovid’s gender-bending metamorphosis story gets a Madison Avenue-style makeover. –The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.” –Scottish Arts Council

“[Smith] shows us unfamiliar beauty within the mundane, as if we were children again. . . . In prose marked by harmonious opposites, she’s childlike and wise, exuberant and subtle, humorously intelligent and provocatively dry.”–The Globe and Mail

“[A] witty, profound, humane paean to passionate love. . . . Highly original, audacious and lyrical, she has become a special writer.” The Sunday Herald

“To read Ali Smith is like being borne up on the wing of a bird in flight.” –The Globe and Mail

“Ovid could hardly be a better fit for Smith’s ethereal and transformative imagination.” –Daily Telegraph

“By the time I finished the book, my heart was beating and tears stood in my eyes, even as I had the biggest smile written all over my face.” – The Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By wildlx on August 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Girl Meets Boy" is a re-telling of the myth of Iphis, which tells how love can be a transformative power, originally found in Ovid's "Metamorphoses". Ovid's myth is about Iphis, a girl raised as a boy by her mother, because her father threatened to kill her child at birth if she was a girl. She falls in love with Ianthe and, in order to marry her, she must be transformed into a boy by the Gods.
In Ali Smith's contemporary version of the myth, the story is told by two sisters, Imogen and Anthea Gunn. They live in Inverness, in the house that belonged to their grandparents which had filled their childhood with stories both gender-bender ('Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says...'), and rebellious. Both sisters work at Pure, a multinational advertising agency intent on marketing water, 'the perfect commodity'. Anthea starts her metamorphosis when she meets Robin ('She was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life.') and falls in love. The changes in Imogen which by refusing to be just "empty clothes" finally rebels against the sexism and bullying of her work mates and also against the unprincipled corporate practices of Pure, lead her to find love.
Ali Smith's prose is readable and funny but, at the same time, subtle and intelligent. The book challenges our ideas about gender and also addresses the issues of homophobia (the musings of Anthea when she is running are hilarious), sexism and misogyny. But the book is also about the ability to change and to come out into the whole world instead of being 'inside a tiny white painted rectangle about the size of a single space in a car park'. Anthea wonders 'Do myths spring fully formed from the imagination and the needs of a society?' and how they are created in modern societies - 'is advertising a new kind of myth-making?'-, but what she finally learns is that 'It's what we do with the myths we grow up with that matters.'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SBO on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I genuinely love Ali smith's prose; I'll admit that right away. I fall in love with her enticing and exuberant language with each book she creates. In this slim, almost too-cutesy-seeming novel, Smith provides a lovely, lyrical love story that tackles issues from feminism to the age of global commerce to language to sexuality to myth and story-telling, to familial relations. Please, keep writing, Ali! If only to prove that words still matter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Girl Interrupted on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book i have read by Ali Smith. Girl Meets Boy is a modern tale gracefully intertwined with the ancient Greek myths. It is a somewhat short tale but Ali Smith shines as always in her verbal style. The writing is unique, the story is fresh and breaks the rigid gender boundaries of fiction.

Smith adds a fresh perspective using political and social witty sarcasm that evokes the rebellious era of the 60s all the while being set in the new millennium. It is definitely a good, light read.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. Hathaway on January 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love the patter, pattern and playfulness in the rhythmic language of this book. The story has a pointed moral purpose and I commend Smith for weaving so well her outward purpose into the most joyful and passionate prose I have come across in a long while.

This book begs, howls, screams for reading out loud. Grab a dear lover or dear friend and speak the words to the wind or the fire and to each other and grow closer and more intimate than before. You will find tenderness and joy here. Do not miss it. Do not let this sparkling-wonderous moment pass you by.

BT
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Format: Paperback
"Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says."

I was hooked by the first line of "Girls Meets Boy" by Ali Smith and had to buy it immediately (from the awesome bookstore, Raven Used Books, in Northampton, MA). GMB is a little book, a modern retelling of the myth of Iphis. Not to worry, the myth is explained both traditionally in poetic old school language and in everyday slang, as well as through the story of two Scottish sisters in modern day Iverness: the brooding smartass layabout Anthea and the responsible beautiful tortured Imogen.

There is so much beautiful language throughout. Here are three examples:

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute..."

"I went outside mournful, and I hit pure air."

"There was blossom on the surface of the Ness, close to the bank, lapping near my feet, a thin rime of floating petals."

And so much gender bending awesomeness (I heart you, Ms. Smith, for this):

"She had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl's toughness. She had a boy's gentleness."

"She was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life."

The chapters alternate between the sisters' points of view, and in ways that push at the boundaries of form and language. There's a lovely theme of the myriad follies of capitalism and marketing (ok, lovely for me anyway), and some fabulous guerilla graffiti responses (here's to message boys around the world). Though it's too neat and quick in some respects, GMB comes to a satisfying end, and it's a fast read. Pick it up if you're into any of the above.

"We were blades, were a knife that could cut through myth, were two knives thrown by a magician, were arrows fired by a god, we hit heart, we hit home."
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