“The Lazy River” by Zadie Smith
Anytime I’m presented with the opportunity to read a new short story by Zadie Smith, I avail myself of it. So far I have read and posted on three of her five novels and several of her short stories. I have also read a number of her essays without posting upon them.
“The Lazy River” can be read in several levels. It is a very clever way a gentle satire on literary analysis. I think it can also be seen as mocking the insular propensity of the English, going on vacation to a resort in Spain but staying strictly in the confines of English culture. Maybe on it can be seen as making light of the kinds of British voters who voted in favour of leaving the European Union, people with a sense of cultural inferiority.
The opening paragraph gives a perfect feel for the story:
The Lazy River is a metaphor and at the same time a real body of artificial water, in an all-inclusive hotel, in Almería, somewhere in southern Spain. We do not leave the hotel (except to buy flotation devices). The plan is to beat our hotel at its own game. What you do is you do this: you drink so much alcohol that your accommodation is effectively free. (Only the most vulgar among us speak this plan aloud but we are all on board.) For in this hotel we are all British, we are en masse, we are unashamed. We enjoy one another’s company. There is nobody French or German here to see us at the buffet, rejecting paella and swordfish in favor of sausages and chips, nor anyone to judge us as we lie on our loungers, turning from the concept of literature toward the reality of sudoku. One of our tribe, an older gentleman, has a portrait of Amy Winehouse on each shin, and we do not judge him, not at all, how could we? “
At the link above you can read the story and enjoy Smith’s Podcast of the story.
The New Yorker often takes stories of the free webpage after a while.