When we get momentarily baffled in a Smith novel, we don’t, like Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon, sit and scratch our hindquarters. We’re with the author, banging down bosky mental paths. She trusts that we’ll eventually notice the trail blazes on the rocks. She’s writing about the state of her own soul at the moment, and meaning can be up for grabs... Smith’s seasonal novels can be pretty on-the-nose, politically. Sometimes they veer into the saccharine. The water, here and there, turns brackish. But as with a strong river, their motion is fundamentally self-purifying.
“Summer” is a prose poem in praise of memory, forgiveness, getting the joke and seizing the moment. “Whatever age you are,” one character comments, “you still die too young.”