Focusing On “The Lazy River”: A Summary
“Grand Union” is a must read collection of short forms by Zadie Smith, which the reader can enter at any point, just like you can step at any point in “The Lazy River”, the culmination of her short-story collection. The reader can experience the striking variations of tone, voice and variations in genre from one short story to the next, and in each section, a short story is usually paired with an essay. In the “Lazy River”, Smith masterfully uncovers the main issues facing the post-Brexit modern society, whereby technology leads to a lack of agency and even zaps the individual’s determination, creativity, and thinking.
In this modern society, people float in a metaphoric current, which loops around them in an almost circular motion. They use electronic devices to “float” and “go with the flow”, without thinking. The “Lazy river” is a metaphor, illustrating how the ‘river’ sweeps people along endlessly, and how the ‘current’ is in control of people, hinting at individuals’ lack of agency. The “river” is also a judgement free zone, where even though people do not approve of things they see, no one dares to call it out.
A good analysis on other themes which can specifically be found in Smith’s work “The Lazy River” is this website that does a great job at breaking the themes down, especially that of social media ;