“He was soft as rainwater.”
In this, her first collection of short stories, Winterson reveals all the facets of her extraordinary imagination. In prose that is full of imagery and word-play, she creates physical and psychological worlds that are at once familiar and yet shockingly strange.
Up until reading this book, I had read Winterson’s fiction in The Passion and her non-fiction in Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery. So now seemed like a good time to return to her fiction in the form of short stories.
I was surprised to learn, halfway through reading, that this was her first collection of short stories. There’s something about her style of writing, her fiction, that lends itself to the magic of short story writing.
On the blurb of this book The Times writes: “The short story form was made for Jeanette Winterson” and I can’t help but agree.
Due to this being a collection, I thought it only appropriate to give each of the 17 stories its own individual rating. So, here is a breakdown of those ratings:
I’ve given 3 stars to the majority of stories, so by rights I should give the book 3 stars, but I’ve given this 4 stars because of the sheer imagination and excellence of craft.
If you’ve never read Winterson, then this is a good one to start with. The style of writing is in line with exactly what makes me love her, and the stories are a joy to read and think about. They explore life in a relatable way, using familiar characters, but the stories are just that little bit more surreal than real life.
“Time is not constant. Time in stories least of all. Anyone can fall asleep and lose generations in their dreams.”
Winterson takes the world we all know and alters an aspect of it that spins it completely on its axis and makes us re-consider what we think about the world, whilst also feeling an affinity with the life and surroundings we are living in.
If you have a pet, you’ll fall in love with two of these stories. If you’re a lesbian, or even a bisexual woman, you’ll smile at the wit of The Poetics of Sex. In fact, the way Winterson writes that story is enough to make anyone and everyone smile! The titles for each section are incredible and add a deeper layer of meaning to the story we arr faced with.
We enter worlds where sleep is forbidden, where the constellations are more than stars, where the outcast is the main character, and places where wishes can and do come true.
And even the ones I didn’t enjoy as much still had quotes in that I underlined. So I assure you, this book will offer you more than just stories, it’ll literally offer you the Adventure of a Lifetime.
“We have to eat, we want to make money, but in every pause the question returns: How shall I live?”
Altogether, this is a charming book with a range of characters that will astound you because of their stark personality. Just when you think Winterson can’t get any more imaginative and clever, she hits you with another brilliant short story.
This craft is hard to master, and Winterson makes it look easy.
If you want to read more of my writing on Jeanette Winterson, then read these blog posts:
Link to the book on Goodreads: The World and Other Places