• How to Be Both

  • A Novel
  • By: Ali Smith
  • Narrated by: John Banks
  • Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (166 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How to Be Both is the dazzling new novel by Ali Smith. It is long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2014. Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive, and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith's novels are like nothing else. How to Be Both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving, genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths, and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

©2014 Ali Smith (P)2014 W.F. Howes

What listeners say about How to Be Both

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Two stories, two responses

Ali Smith is a master of her craft and How to Be Both is masterly, full of nuanced and fascinating characters. The hard copy was published in two versions, half with one narrative at the start, half with the other. I don't know if we audio readers also had two different versions but I preferred reading about the mother/daughter relationship rather than about the life of a Renaissance muralist, even though the two stories interlace.. If you love word play, you'll find that the section on the girl abounds with it, and I ate it up.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Impressive

Loved the interesting way stories are told. Impressive work of art and writing. I want to see the real paintings.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Incompetent Foreign Pronunciation

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I never finish listening to, much less recommend, books in which the narrator has not taken the time to learn to pronounce foreign words correctly.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of John Banks?

Banks is a good reader/actor, but Like so many narrators, he didn't study the pronunciation of foreign words, in this case Italian. It really detracts from the listening experience to hear names of places and major characters mispronounced. What would it take for the producer to require that a narrator work with an accent and pronunciation coach for a day?

Was How to Be Both worth the listening time?

See comments above.

Any additional comments?

Please don't give prompts for reviews as if we were in grade school.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

unresolved ending

Choose your own adventure ending. This is Sad with really no resolution. A big disappointment.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Read this one instead

Hard to follow by listening. A lot of elements don’t transfer well to the audiobook format. Not a great story overall but could be better understood in written form.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Ali Wordsmith

No doubts why she’s a winner
Wow
So life like
Like life,
the unreality of it.

👍