Echo writes back: The figure of the author in ‘True Short Story’ by Ali Smith | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X


Ali Smith’s 2008 collection The First Person And Other Stories re-examines the implied contract between reader and writer. In particular, the first piece in the collection, ‘True Short Story’, challenges our reading of the text as ‘story’. It is highly metafictive, with little conventional structure, and apparently autobiographical, and the narrator must be the author too – mustn’t she(it)? Smith insists that we read the author into the work, in order to create a new set of questions around the debate of authorial identity. ‘True Short Story’ considers what difference it makes to the reader when the author’s voice is apparently unmediated by any fictional narrator. Does this make the story autobiography rather than fiction? If it is not fiction, does that mean it is not a story either? If it is fiction, why use so many apparently verifiable facts? The article also considers whether Jorge Luis Borges has anything to say about Smith’s disruption of the sujet. The figure of the author in ‘Borges and I’ is compared with that in ‘True Short Story’, together with Paul Auster’s apparent appearance in his City of Glass.(1987)


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Ali Smith; author; fiction; J. L. Borges; Paul Auster; Roland Barthes
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