Saturday, March 24, 2012
100 Books in 2012: Book 26 "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"
When I was 18 and a wide-eyed college freshman, I read "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit." Since then, I have loved Jeanette Winterson's crisp, layered prose. I was thrilled when this memoir announced, and I flew through it yesterday.
Growing up in Northern England (the Manchester area) in the 1960s and the 1970s is just part of what shaped Winterson. The landscape, the culture, and the deep poverty of the area became a part of her, but so did her adoptive mother's evangelical beliefs and iron-fisted parenting style. This is a brutally honest story of lack of love, sexuality, religious fanaticism, and the people who stepped in to save pieces of Winterson along the way. Between literature and a few good souls, Winterson was able to leave her hometown, going on to attend Oxford and later to a career as a successful writer. But the scars of the past run deep, and at the end of the memoir, Winterson is still struggling with her identity as an adopted child.
The beauty of her language doesn't mask Winterson's pain: it shines a small light into the dark corners of her life. Once again, reading this author has forced me to dig deep within my own soul. I highly recommend this book to all women first, and to all lovers of memoir second.
Writing has a deep power: it helps us define ourselves, and it helps us expand our world. What books or authors have changed the way you think?