Ali Smith: Girl Meets Boy

<p><em>Benedicte Page writes:</em></p>
<p>Most of the myths in Ovid&rsquo;s <em>Metamorphoses</em> are downright miserable - all about rape, murder, and suffering of one kind or another. But there&rsquo;s one, about Iphis, which has a really happy ending. Iphis is a girl brought up as a boy (for reasons too complicated to explain), betrothed to another girl and in love with her. As the wedding approaches, she gets rather anxious that all will not be well - but lo! after praying to the gods for assistance, she&rsquo;s transformed into a boy just in time for the nuptials. Happiness all round. This is lovely material for Ali Smith to reinvent in this latest in the Canongate Myths series, out in November. She&rsquo;s written an exuberant story about the ambiguities of gender and lesbian love, set in Scotland and against the backdrop of a black-hearted advertising agency which thinks up slogans to sell water (the women lovers rebel and start writing anti-capitalist and feminist messages all over town). The climax is a kind of fantastical epithalamion for the lovers&rsquo; wedding day in which everything nice which could possibly happen, does, with mounting degrees of improbability - including warm-hearted wedding blessings from the Loch Ness monster and that horrid old misogynist John Knox, which made me laugh like a drain.</p>