Just a smile would lighten everything
Sexy Sadie she’s the latest and the greatest of them all.
“Women often have a great need to portray themselves as sympathetic and pleasing, but we’re also dark people with dark thoughts”. Zadie Smith
“Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied”. Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith (born on 25 October 1975) is a British novelist, essayist and short story writer.
She has published four novels, all of which have received substantial critical praise. In 2003, she was included on Granta’s list of 20 best young authors, and was also included in the 2013 list. She joined New York University’s Creative Writing Program as a tenured professor on September 1, 2010. Smith has won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2006 and her novel White Teeth was included in Time magazine’s TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005 list.
On New Year’s Day 1975, an Englishman named Archie Jones, a 47-year-old man whose disturbed Italian wife has just walked out on him, is attempting to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car when a chance interruption causes him to change his mind.
“This is what divorce is: Taking things you no longer want from people you no longer love”.
Filled with a fresh enthusiasm for life, Archie flips a coin and then finds his way into the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party. There he meets the much-younger Clara Bowden, a Jamaican woman whose mother, Hortense, is a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Clara had been interested in the unattractive, antisocial Ryan Topps, but their relationship falls apart after Ryan becomes a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Archie and Clara are soon married and have a daughter, Irie, who grows up to be intelligent but with low self-confidence.
“He talked and talked, the kind of talking you do to stave off the inevitable physical desire. The kind of talk that only increases it”.
“…A past tense, future perfect kind of night”.
“Hysterical realism, also called “recherché postmodernism”, is a term coined in 2000 by English critic James Wood in an essay on Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to describe what he sees as a literary genre typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization and careful, detailed investigations of real specific social phenomena.
“I think I know a thing or two about the way people love, but I don’t know anything about hatred, psychosis, cruelty. Or maybe I don’t have the guts to admit that I do”. Zadie Smith
“I wrote ‘White Teeth’ in the late nineties. I didn’t really feel trepidatious about it. It was a different time”. Zadie Smith
The Autograph Man (2002)
It follows the progress of a Jewish-Chinese Londoner named Alex-Li Tandem, who buys and sells autographs for a living and is obsessed with celebrities.
“His death is like the soft down on the back of your hand, passing unnoticed in the firmest of handshakes, though the slightest breeze makes every damn one of the tiny hairs stand on end”.
On Beauty (2005)
“The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free”.
It takes its title from an essay by Elaine Scarry (On Beauty and Being Just). The story follows the lives of a mixed-race British/American family living in the United States. On Beauty addresses ethnic and cultural differences in both the USA and the UK, the nature of beauty, and the clash between liberal and conservative academic values. A short article in the Guardian has described it as a “transatlantic comic saga.”
“He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice”.
“I like books that don’t give you an easy ride. I like the feeling of discomfort. The sense of being implicated”. Zadie Smith
“I never attended a creative writing class in my life. I have a horror of them; most writers groups moonlight as support groups for the kind of people who think that writing is therapeutic. Writing is the exact opposite of therapy”. Zadie Smith
It takes its title from the NW postcode area in North-West London, the setting of the novel. The novel is experimental and follows four different characters living in London, shifting between first and third person, stream-of-consciousness, screenplay-style dialogue and other narrative techniques in an attempt to reflect the polyphonic nature of contemporary urban life.
James Wood included the novel in his ‘Best Books of 2012’ and commented that “underneath the formal experimentation runs a steady, clear, realistic genius. Smith is a great urban realist… the best novel she has yet written.”
The Embassy of Cambodia (novella, 2013)
“Any artist who aligns themselves with a politician is making a category error because what politicians do is not on a human scale, it is on a geopolitical scale”. Zadie Smith
“Unless you consider yourself some sort of human brand, which I don’t, you have to deal with the fact that different people are going to like different aspects of your work. It’s not consistent. I am not consistent. But I feel OK with that”. Zadie Smith
I first heard “Sexy Sadie” in 1968 when my brother bought the White Album LP. The production is eerie with the echoy piano which makes the song all the more compelling. Then later when the background of the song was known (the incident with the Maharishi), it gave the song a kind of urban legend quality. When many of the Beatles’ albums were reissued a few years back, I bought the White Album. Still enjoy listening to this track. Lennon was truly a great composer. He is still truly missed by many. – BubblesK, Memphis, TN
John Lennon wrote this about the Maharishi while he was leaving India in 1968. After attending his Transcendental Meditation camp with the other Beatles, Lennon thought The Maharishi was a crock.
The song describes Lennon’s total dissatisfaction with the Maharishi. While at his retreat, it has been said that the Maharishi attempted to rape Mia Farrow. Once The Beatles learned of this, they immediately went to the Maharishi, and Lennon announced they were all leaving. The Maharishi asked why? Lennon said, “If you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.” As originally written, some of its lyrics were considered obscene, and had to be refined. Lennon had used the Maharishi’s name, but had to change it for fear of being sued. But, Sexy Sadie is the Maharishi. Needless to say, that was the end of the Maharishi and The Beatles relationship. (Dominic – Pittsburgh, PA)
Lennon dubbed the Maharishi “sexy” after he hit on Mia Farrow. Farrow’s sister, Prudence, was also there, and her experience led Lennon to write “Dear Prudence.”