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Old 23rd Jan 2006, 14:29   #21
John Self
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Default Re: Jeanette Winterson

That explains it! Thanks Blixa.
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Old 29th Jan 2006, 13:50   #22
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Well, I read Lighthousekeeping this morning and it very nearly got the full 5 stars. John's review on page 1 above sums it up very well, but from someone who has jumped from her first book to the last (and never finished Gut Symmetries) it was a revelation of how breathtakingly beautiful her writing is. Every paragraph was a simple-to-view-but-complex weave of the richest metaphors, but not dazzling the reader, or convincing the reader of their worth. They were that natural elucidation of things you know you have known all along. Only once or twice did I sense the description being spun out artificially, and it was only in the spareness of the last scenes of the book that some of that gathered wisdom flung its arms wide and let go at a moment I was wanting to hold on. The credo of 'love is all' can be profundity and banality and I hadn't fully latched onto the narrator's own arc of her relationship with an unnamed other, for her final assertion of her credo to make full dramatic sense in that context. It made sense generally and in relation to Babel Dark's tragic fall and loss of self, but emotionally I don't think we were warm to it or ready to claim it for Silver's relationship.
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Old 23rd Mar 2006, 23:11   #23
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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 -

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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.
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Old 23rd Mar 2006, 23:31   #24
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Default Re: Jeanette Winterson

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
I am now looking forward to her children's novel Tanglewreck, which is out in July.
Wide spaces, big margins.
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Old 11th Jun 2006, 8:31   #25
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Tanglewreck sounds ingenious but over-busy in this Guardian review.
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Old 11th Jun 2006, 10:42   #26
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Yes, I was rather alarmingly reminded of a certain slapheaded self-publisher when the reviewer began to speak of solutions being provided with no explanation or internal logic.

The title by the way comes from taking the start and end of rectangle and swapping them over.
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Old 25th Jun 2006, 22:14   #27
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Interview with Winterson in today's Observer, ahead of the publication of Tanglewreck. Myself, I would take the references to 'brilliant children's book' and 'true successor to Oranges' with a pinch of salt, as I seem to recall that the interviewer, Kate Kellaway, was pretty much the only champion of some of her recent books in the national reviews, particularly the mediocre Gut Symmetries and The PowerBook. And sure enough, from the outset she's referring to her interviewee as 'Jeanette.' Nothing like rigorous impartiality, eh?
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Old 28th Jun 2006, 10:43   #28
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Amanda Craig seems to like Tanglewreck in her Times review which describes it as for the 9+ agegroup:

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Jeanette Winterson’s Tanglewreck is her first novel for children. From the opening, when an Ancient Egyptian chariot bursts out of Cleopatra’s Needle and a bus full of schoolchildren disappears by the Thames, the pace is unflagging.

Silver, the 11-year-old heroine, is an orphan whose parents have been snatched away by a Time Tornado. The unpleasant Mrs Rokabye and sinister Abel Darkwater are convinced that Silver knows where the Timekeeper — a seventeenth-century device that controls time — is hidden. Silver is in danger of losing Tanglewreck, her family’s ancient home, with which she has a special bond of psychic communion, and the world is in danger of collapsing into chaos.

Silver is taken to London, where she resists Abel’s attempt to hypnotise her and escapes into the weird underground world of her odd new friend, Gabriel. From there, it’s a race through time, space and the vagaries of public transport to beat the bad guys to the Timekeeper. The house, meanwhile, fights back against two bad burglars and Mrs Rokabye’s revolting rabbits with admirable aplomb.

The tale is told with such sympathy and verve that you wonder why it has taken this writer so long to do what seems most natural to her. Reminiscent of John Masefield’s classic, The Midnight Folk, this story of a brave, lonely, imaginative child is drawn by someone who retains perfect recollection of what it was like to be one.

What is particularly interesting is that, where adult novelists such as Audrey Niffenegger and Liz Jensen have recently used time travel to explore romantic love, these children’s authors use it to explore the moral debt adults owe children — a challenging preoccupation that guilty parents will recognise all too well. The special nature of childhood rests on having the luxury of time, as Dylan Thomas’s great poem, Fern Hill, recognises.

Tanglewreck, like Gideon the Cutpurse and Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman, is partly a satire on our current perception that we all have too little time due to a change in the nature of reality, rather than our own greed and impatience. Neither should be missed.
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Old 28th Jun 2006, 11:03   #29
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Sounds like an intelligent reading. Wasn't Amanda Craig though mired in some minor scandal a few years ago over her novel A Vicious Circle, which supposedly drew too much on specific real lives?

I've been keeping an eye out for Tanglewreck in the bookshops, and will definitely read it when I can.
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Old 28th Jun 2006, 11:30   #30
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Generally I'm not convinced I like her reviews. I thought her review of Anne Fine's The Road of Bones the other week was ridiculous and laughable for its view on what YA writing should be about.
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