Morgan Meis at Slant Books:
I first became aware of the photographs of Deana Lawson because of a piece that Zadie Smith wrote about Lawson in The New Yorker a few years ago and I remember it being quite a good piece, which is not unusual for a piece by Zadie Smith and, to be completely truthful, I find that I am often much more moved and impressed when Zadie Smith writes about visual art than I am by the novels of Zadie Smith. But perhaps I am just being bitter in saying this because in fact I should also say that I once sort of thought that I was a little bit friends with Zadie Smith since she had liked an article I’d written about a collection of her essays and we engaged in something of an ongoing email exchange and then one day I noticed that we were both scheduled to do something at a literary event, to give a talk or give a reading or whatever people do at literary events and I thought I would drop by to say hi to her and maybe have a coffee and suddenly I was in a long line of people trying to get a moment with Zadie Smith as she was sitting at a table signing books. She was surrounded by different sorts of handlers and managers and, I guess, bodyguards and when I finally got up to Zadie Smith and when she realized that she sort of knew me through an email exchange there was an awkward chit chat between the two of us mixed with some overly long pauses and it felt, I must say, like I was standing there for several hours when in fact it must have only been a couple of minutes and the whole time she looked deeply pained and sorry for me and then her handlers sort of scooted me along down the hall and I finally realized that I am not friends with Zadie Smith at all, not even a little bit, and that she lives in a world that truly and completely has nothing to do with my own. She lives in a world of real and genuine fame and I do not. She ‘knows’ hundreds of people like me and mostly she just wants them to go away. And I don’t blame her at all for that. Not one bit. During that awkward couple of minutes standing in front of her book-signing table I wanted me to go away too.