Monday, May 28, 2007

Two by Jeanette Winterson

If you are not familiar with Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping is a great introduction. Her style is quirky and none of her narratives are linear, but she has a wonderful poetic way of describing even the most ordinary scenes. For example, one day the main character steps out into the sunshine of Athens, Greece. "I went outside, tripping over slabs of sunshine the size of towns. The sun was like a crowd of people, it was a party, it was music. The sun was blaring through the walls of the houses and beating down the steps. The sun was drumming time into the stone. The sun was rhythming the day."
The story is an allegory about love, life, and knowledge, and story telling, and dreams of past and present and future. I haven't read much Winterson since graduate school, but I am glad I came back to her.
The second title is Weight: the Myth of Atlas and Heracles. I have mixed feelings about this philosophical retelling of the Atlas and Heracles myth (I hesitate to call it a novel). It was clever, thought provoking, and well-written as usual for Winterson.
But something holds me back from unqualified and enthusiastic praise. I guess it relates to my distaste for modern versions of Mozart, Puccini, or Verdi operas (I once had the misfortune to see Cosi Fan Tutti set in a bowling alley).
I also LOVE the old myths. They have a beauty of their own closely connected with the culture that created them. When the stories are twisted and reshaped to fit our culture, something is gained, but, in my opinion, far more is lost. See also my recent posting of Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad.
-Chiron, 5/28/07

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