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Ali Smith has double vision in 'How to Be Both'
Ali Smith has double vision in 'How to Be Both'

Ali Smith's sixth novel, "How to Be Both," is a book of doubles, featuring twin narratives paired back to back and published in separate editions. In one, the first part evokes the 15th century Italian painter Francesco del Cossa and the second the contemporary saga of a British teenager named Georgia; in the other, these two stories are reversed. That this is a gimmick goes without saying, and yet it is a gimmick that resonates. "[T]he first thing we see," Smith writes late (or early) in the novel, "… and most times the only thing we see, is the one on the surface. So does that mean it comes first after all? And does that mean the other picture, if...

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