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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Power Book by Jeanette Winterson

I tried to read this last year and found it tedious and overworked, but when I picked it up again the other day it seemed to have changed considerably, grabbed me by the throat and kept my attention right through to the last page. Books, eh? You look away for a moment, and . . .

One of the things that put me off last year were the chapter metaphors which are culled from computer jargon like, windows, hard drive, views, etc. But this time round I discovered fascinating conversations, fairy tales, literary and historical allusions and a whole load of modern myth, all working together in the interest of humour and entertainment.

Jeanette Winterson follows the trajectory of a love story:

Railway Station. Point of arrival. Point of departure. A transit zone. How light she looked, with just a suitcase she could carry in one hand. Inside that suitcase was a marriage, America, a life of which I knew nothing. Inside that suitcase were doors I had never opened into rooms I wouldn’t recognise. The suitcase was stuffed with letters and an address book and a store card for a shopping mall, and dinner parties I had never been to, and wouldn’t go to now. In that suitcase were invitations from friends and pre-sets on a car radio tuned to stations I had never heard. In that suitcase were bad dreams and secret hopes. The dirty linen was in a special nylon compartment. Her childhood was in there – the awkward child with rough plaits who grew into a beautiful heavy-haired woman, who never quite believed the compliments of the mirror. Her husband was in there, or maybe he was strapped to the side, where you usually keep the lifeboats.

I looked at the suitcase, suddenly heavy, too heavy to carry, and I realised that she could never drag it with her. She was right – it would have to be let go, or taken home and unpacked again.

2 Responses to “The Power Book by Jeanette Winterson”

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    I also struggled with that particular book – although I am a fan – but I have ‘Tanglewreck’ sitting on my desk right now waiting to be read. My wife tore through it in two days and loved it. But I’ll have to be quick as she wants to send it off to her granddaughter. The woman always inspires me to write even though we work in completely different ways. She appreciates words and always uses them well, even in conversation; she is one of the most articulate of people.

    jb says: Hi Jim. Yes, that’s the attraction for me as well. The love of language, and her unwavering knowledge that she’ll be able to pin you down with it. I just rolled over and begged for more.

  2. Dino says:

    thanks for sharing the info.. do you know it is possible to get a PDF version of that book?

    jb says: Thanks, Dino. I had a quick look on the web but couldn’t find any pdf copies. Do you have the link?