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Old 23rd Mar 2006, 23:11   #23
John Self
suffers from smallness of vision
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Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Jeanette Winterson

I've just reread Lighthousekeeping which, despite my attempts to savour each page for as long as possible - the lines are widely spaced and many pages are blank - only lasted a day. I agree with Col that the book is most definitely weaker toward the end, where it's hard to reconcile the image of Silver, an adult with a nameless lover, in the real world - particularly in Winterson's beloved Capri, which featured in The PowerBook also - after only seeing her as a 10-year-old child on Cape Wrath and in Salts, with Miss Pinch and Pew the lighthousekeeper. These scenes appear weak alongside the richly symbolic and mythic/fairytale first half of the book, where the lyrical precision of the writing is just breathtaking, and I was practically stroking the words with my index finger in appreciation of their beauty. I would say that the first half or more of the book - to about page 130, when the threat of automation arrives (though little is made of it) - is more or less entirely flawless, as perfect a standard of writing as Winterson has achieved. Nonetheless, even in the weaker sections, she is capable of pulling out such wondrous images, like this one of dusk falling on a clear night -

The light was thinning, losing colour, turning transparent. The day had worn through and the stars were showing.
- that I really didn't mind. Lighthousekeeping, despite its Richard & Judy friendly women's-lit-fic cover, is far removed from mainstream storytelling and all the better and fresher for it.

I am now looking forward to her children's novel Tanglewreck, which is out in July.
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
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