Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jeanette Winterson is a giant


This post is much delayed but still important.  Literary genius Jeanette Winterson has a new book, a memoir, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"  I've not read it yet because I am disgracefully behind in all my reading (but summer is here, so there is hope for reading for pleasure and for updating this poor, neglected blog...).

I attended Winterson's talk in Boston (Brookline, actually) on March 19, and I took this photo.  She's smiling at me because I just told her she looked great, which she did.  I had never seen her in person before.  She is remarkably small.  But swaggering nonetheless, as you would imagine.

I have adored Jeanette Winterson since I read her first novel  "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" in the late 1980s.  Her work was important to me as I developed my identity in my late teens and early 20s.  And, still, she is one of few contemporary authors whose writing truly moves me.  When I chose "The Stone Gods" for my book group not long ago, some readers hated it so much they were almost hostile toward me.  But I don't care.  She's a genius.

Aside from calling out to Jeanette that she looked great, the only other interaction we've had is an email I sent to her website a few years ago.  She had misspelled the name of writer A.M. Homes.  I received what appeared to be a brief, personal reply from Jeanette herself saying only: "She'll forgive me!"

Apparently, A.M. Homes has indeed forgiven Jeanette because Amy posted this Facebook item on March 22: "Last Night I Introduced Jeanette Winterson's reading at Barnes and Noble--it was amazing--she is among the brightest, most gifted writers of our time and her Memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal is a defining book on the subject of adoption-read it!"