‘Smote (or When I find I cannot Kiss You In Front of a Print by Bridget Riley)’ by Eley Williams

I am certainly not alone in thinking Eley Williams’ collection Attrib. and Other Stories is phenomenal. In fact, I looked through to see if anyone else had picked her and of course they had, and several had picked this story. But I make no claims to be unique, this story is near-perfect for me and I’m glad I’m not alone. I first read it in her collection, and it has stuck with me since then. When I realised I wanted to include it, I delighted in rereading it.  It showcases Williams’ love of language and her insights into what we think of when we pretend we aren’t thinking of anything at all. It is, on the face of it, just the inner dialogue of someone in a gallery with the person they fancy, and who they would like to kiss. Williams hurls at the reader a torrent of language and concludes with the loveliest of lines that read like poetry:

You have leaned in, and have kissed me without even thinking about it
Like it is the easiest thing in the world 
and you stark me 
and I am strobe-hearted…

It is the only love story in this personal anthology and it is a story that I love.  

First published in The White Review online, 2015 and collected in Attrib. and Other Stories, Influx Press, 2017

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