Sunday, April 08, 2007

Written on the Body

It's late, and I really should be in bed asleep, but I stayed up late grading papers--YUCK!

Before I go to bed, I have to write something about Jeanette Winterson's novel Written on the Body. I started this short novel after reading Book World's rave review of Winterson's Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. I finished it tonight before I started grading those papers. If I hadn't been so busy lately, I would have finished it much faster--a page-turner of the best kind.

Written on the Body was my first Winterson reading experience, and I will definitely try some of her other novels too. In addition, I may have to start reading Winterson's monthly columns. According to Callie at Counterbalance, there is "always something meaty" in her columns.

Because it's so late, I won't go into detail about why I liked Written on the Body, but I will share two incredible paragraphs:
In a vacuum all photons travel at the same speed. They slow down when traveling through air or water or glass. Photons of different energies are slowed down at different rates. If Tolstoy ahd known this, would he have recognised the terrible untruth at the beginning of Anna Karenina? 'All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own particular way.' In fact it's the other way around. Happiness is specific. Misery is a generalisation. People usually know exactly why they are happy. They very rarely know why they are miserable.
Misery is a vacuum. A space without air, a suffocated dead place, the abode of the miserable. Misery is a tenement block, rooms like battery cages, sit over your own droppings, lie on your own filth. Misery is a no U-turns, no stopping road. Travel down it pushed by those behind, tripped by those in front. Travel down it at furious speed though the days are mummified in lead. It happens so fast once you get started, there's no anchor from the real world to slow you down, nothing to hold on to. Misery pulls away the brackets of life leaving you to free fall. Whatever your private hell, you'll find millions like it in Misery. This is the town where everyone's nightmares come true.

What a great description! I would love to say more, but it's already after 1:00a.m. and the alarm will go off at 5:00a.m. I better go to bed now.


Valerie said...

You know that this book is not at the top of my "Must Read" list, but over the past few days you have made me really want to read it. Just what I need -- another book to get to! ;-)

Kim said...

Well, if you are going to quit on London, this would be a quick read for you.

Penny said...

I remember how much this book affected me when I read it in college, years and years ago. It is so physical and ephemeral at the same time. Also, I have always been interested in the idea of what is inscribed in/through/on the body--and the melancholy in the book over the loss of the loved one is such a palpable loss, incorporated onto the body. It is truly beautiful and moving. Hmmmm, maybe I should go find my copy . . .

danielle said...

I also saw the review at Book World and immediately pulled my Winterson novels off my shelf, but I haven't yet managed to fit any of them in. Glad to hear you liked her work as well.