A friend insisted that I read this book for the groundbreaking writing. She said that I would appreciate it as a writer, and she was right. The story, however, was unmemorable and almost uncomfortable and depressing at times. I won't deny that Winterson is a gifted writer but this book wasn't my cup of tea when it comes to reading for pleasure.
This fourth effort from British writer Winterson ( Sexing the Cherry ) is a high-concept erotic novelette, a Vox for the postmarital crowd. The narrator, a lifelong philanderer ("I used to think marriage was a plate-glass window just begging for a brick"), has fallen in love with Louise, a pre-Raphaelite beauty. Louise is unhappily married to a workaholic cancer researcher, so the narrator leads her into a sexually combative affair. This scenario seems obvious enough, but Winterson never reveals whether the narrator is male or female. Rather, she teases readers out of their expectations about women and men and romance: Louise calls the narrator "the most beautiful creature male or female that I have ever seen," and the narrator observes, "I thought difference was rated to be the largest part of sexual attraction but there are so many things about us that are the same." When the narrator breaks off the affair after learning that Louise has cancer--only her husband can cure her--the work turns into a eulogy for lost love. Winterson manipulates gender expertly here, but her real achievement is her manipulation of genre : the capacious first-person narration, now addressed to the reader, now to the lover, enfolds aphorisms, meditations on extracts from an anatomy textbook, and essayistic riffs on science, virtual reality and the art of fiction ("I don't want to reproduce, I want to create something entirely new"). "It's as if Louise never existed," the narrator observes, "like a character in a book. Did I invent her?" One wonders, as Winterson intends, and then wonders some more. For Louise--and the narrator's love for her--never seems quite real; in this cold-hearted novel love itself, however eloquently expressed, is finally nothing more than a product of the imagination.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
jeanette winterson is one of my favorite authors. her language, the way she writes- is indescribably beautiful. her words just melt.
the plot of this story wasn't anything amazing- its her writing that makes it so. the narrator, who is never identified as male or female goes from (married) woman to woman breaking hearts and falling out of infatuation when another woman steps into the picture.
until s/he meets Louise who is married to Elgin, and it is purely a marriage of convenience. the narrator claims to fall in love with Louise and their story is a tragic one.
i loved this because of a few things. i can sooooooo identify with the narrator. s/he reminds me of someone i was in a relationship with for three years. i was the stable one while they repeated went from woman to woman, chasing that high, that feeling of newness and excitement. they speak the same, and speak of women the same.
some of my favorite quotes from written on the body
"why is the measure of love loss?"
"..You were driving but I was lost in my own navigation."
"I ran a schizophrenic dialogue with myself through the hours of darkness and into the small hours, so called because the heart shrivels up to the size of a pea and there is no hope left in it."
"To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don't get over it because 'it' is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made of anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?"
Still my favorite book by my favorite author ever, although Winterson's Lighthousekeeping is a close second (more dreamy, less concerned with sex).
I would guess that Written on the Body is the most widely read of Winterson's work; I was introduced to it in a college literature class. Much of her writing is sexually charged, but all of it is incredibly artful and beautiful. I believe she is one of the greatest writers of our time, and one of a handful of writers of our era who will stand the test of time. Highly, highly recommended for those who appreciate literature as an artform.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is not at all a typical love story. In fact, there is nothing romantic here, but the emotion is raw and real. Not an easy or fun read, but written in such an interesting and compelling way. The narrator is nameless and gender-less which is even more intriguing but also frustrating for me because I like to get a picture in my mind...and this picture kept changing. As a writer I loved it, as a reader I was a little bit put off.
This fourth effort from British writer Winterson ( Sexing the Cherry ) is a high-concept erotic novelette, a Vox for the postmarital crowd. The narrator, a lifelong philanderer ("I used to think marriage was a plate-glass window just begging for a brick"), has fallen in love with Louise, a pre-Raphaelite beauty. Louise is unhappily married to a workaholic cancer researcher, so the narrator leads her into a sexually combative affair. This scenario seems obvious enough, but Winterson never reveals whether the narrator is male or female. --Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.