August 27, 2013 Repository 85: Bon Mots | Jeanette Winterson’s Autobiography Posted In: bon mots, books

jeanette-winterson1I’ve just completed one of my favorite author’s autobiographies. Her works of fiction have carried me threw some challenging points in my life. The things I learned of her past and present in her latest work “Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal” point to why indeed the perfectly twisted words and prose of her books “Written on the Body” etc landed so well with me. While I was not adopted, much of her self-reflection and questions resonate with me.

Some excerpts I found particularly moving:

“….The missing part, the missing past, can be an opening, not a void. It can be an entry as well as an exit. It is the fossil record, the imprint of another life, and although you can never have that life, your fingers trace the space where it might have been, and your fingers learn a kind of Braille.”

In the following excerpt, I think one could easily replace the poetry with “art” and see the sentiment just the same:

“So when people say poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”

And lastly on the thought of growth – the utter importance of growth as a human being, not just in height or girth:

“Growing up is difficult. Strangely, even when we have stopped growing physically, we seem to have to keep on growing emotionally, which involves both expansion and shrinkage, as some parts of us develop and others must be allowed to disappear…Rigidity never works: we end up being the wrong size for our world.”

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  1. englishfiftysomething • August 28, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book. We discussed it at book group and some thought it was too self indulgent but I didn't. I felt for her in many ways and my link with her was the parent's obsession with church and religion. A wonderfully sad but almost victorious book. Fab blog ! Reply

  2. mindmarrow • August 28, 2013

    Thank you so much for the comment, and so glad you liked the book too! Sometimes one needs to be self indulgent when carrying those bones she has for years - I'm so happy for her, it was a courageous book to write!! Thanks again for reading and commenting;-) Reply

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