“WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL ?”
Knopf Canada 2011 – Vintage 2012
This puzzling sentence was delivered to the author by her adoptive mother when she revealed her “difference” in sexual preference.
In the form of a lively and whimsical autobiography, Jeanette Winterson recounts her childhood and youth while being adopted by a working class family in Manchester. Faced with a stern and cantankerous adoptive mother, she finds refuge in reading and writing. Books become her most faithful companions in misfortune. Always looking for her missing part and her identity, she will eventually retrace her biological mother.
The author has often praised the curative virtue of books, and especially the curative virtue of stories, fictions, and poetry. As a result, this novel is completely in line with the principles of bibliotherapy to which I adhere and which I would like to share with you. Better than a documentary on bibliotherapy, is an autobiographical novel that tells how books have saved a person’s mental health.
“Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home – they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.”
“I had lines inside me, a string of guiding lights. I had language. Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination. I had been damaged, and a very important part of me had been destroyed – that was my reality, the facts of my life. But on the other side of the facts was who I could be, how I could feel. And as long as I had words for that, images for that, stories for that, then I wasn’t lost.”
“I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words.”
“Happy ending are only a pause. There are three kinds of big endings: Revenge. Tragedy. Forgiveness. Revenge and Tragedy often happen together. Forgiveness redeems the past. Forgiveness unblocks the future.”