André Aciman’s Alibis is a collection of essays that digs into the ways in which his experiences throughout various countries have changed him, have shaped him. Each essay is centered on its own theme, yet when collected they all speak to human nature and the ways in which experiences are anticipated, lived, and remembered.
Cover and Title: The cover of this book is beautiful. Done in neutrals (Sepia? I’m no art expert.), it focuses on the many intersecting lines of its featured architecture. This reflects the actual content of the book, which is full of parallel and perpendicular ideas that continually push and pull human emotion and experience. Aciman speaks to temporizing, reflecting, traveling, remembering, and other activities that require people to encounter and revisit life experience that, much like these lines, are interconnected by ideas, people, and places.
Pace: As a collection of essays, Alibis is well-paced. The essays range in length, but none are so long that they seem to drag. Likewise, none are so short that they seems as though Aciman is glossing over details. In fact, the detail that he provides is what makes this collection so engaging, as he offers just enough to let readers into his mind without inundating them with too many ideas (which could be easy to fall into with a book of this nature).
Writing: Aciman’s prose is fresh without seeming forced; his writing is introspective without folding in on itself too completely. He begins the collection with the sentence, “Life begins somewhere with the scent of lavender,” which aptly sets the tone for the wonder yet practicality presented throughout the rest of the book.
Ideas: This is a book that I look forward to revisiting in a few years, as I am sure that it will impact me differently after I experience more that life has to offer. This isn’t to say that it didn’t bring great perspective to me now, though. On the contrary: this is a book that readers of all ages will appreciate. Aciman puts forth thought-provoking ideas on both living life and processing the experience of doing so. I was astonished and delighted to find that some of my own mental quirks (such as living a certain moment as if I am already looking back on it) were discussed. As such, this essay collection has done what any great literary work does–it allowed me to see myself more clearly.
I would highly recommend Alibis to anyone who is interested in essays or who simply enjoys thinking about identity and the quest to understand the experiences that life provides.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.