Wednesday, 29 November 2017

ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT by Jeanette Winterson

I probably should not have begun this book by reading the Introduction by the author.  She described the book as a 'modern classic,' which it may or may not be, but it is certainly not something you can say about your own book.  It is like admitting you are pretty: no one with even basic social skills would do that.  Also, she dwells extensively in the Introduction on the deeply obvious point that there is a fine line between autobiography and fiction.  Anyone who feels this needs to be re-stated is, in my opinion, not very bright.  I KNOW I AM SO HORRIBLE BUT IT IS HOW I FEEL.

Introduction aside, there were some elements of the book that I enjoyed.  It's about a young girl being brought up by an eccentric and fervent Christian mother, and is often very funny. Here, for example, is where she goes to see a girl she admires who works at a fish stand:
Week after week I went back there, just to watch.
Then one week she wasn't there any more. 
There was nothing I could do but stare and stare at the welks.  Whelks are strange and comforting.
They have no notion of community life and they breed very quietly.
But they have a strong sense of personal dignity.
Even lying face down in a tray of vinegar, there is something noble about a whelk.
One can't deny this is hilarious.  However while the main story is engaging and fun, unfortunately there are also long stretches of - get ready for it -  disconnected fragments of fairy tales.  I know! It's worse than dream sequences.  I showed her by skipping these bits entirely.  Modern classic indeed.

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