Thursday, October 14, 2004

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson, one of my favorite living authors, madwoman of the modern novel, creator of at least one book that made me shiver and nearly cry, has her own web site. This excites me. Here are some nice bits. Read them, and more, in full at

“Do we trivialise our lives? Do we get lost in the trivial at the expense of the real? The media does good work reporting world news, but we’d have to admit that most of the rest of what fills papers and TV, is not the stuff of sanity. How much celebrity gossip do we need?”

“I want to spend less time in England because I am upset by our anti-Europeanism, and of course, by Blair and his Bush-mongering. I still do not believe that the war was right, or that Britain should have been part of it. For women in Iraq, the situation appears to be worse than it was under Saddam. True, a lot of fuss is being made of the 25% allocation of seats to women on the ruling council, but as Iraq’s population is 60% woman, this is hardly proportional representation.

Women are being forced back into the home and into wearing the full-length burkha. We have to remember that before Saddam came to power, Iraq was the most progressive of the Middle Eastern States. Even under Saddam, women had equal opportunities, not that anyone had much in the way of any opportunity. Saddam’s Iraq was secular; the new Iraq is turning fiercely Fundamentalist.

Which is a long way round of me saying that I admire France for taking a stand against the war and against the USA. There is much about the USA that I love, but it is not good for one country to hold such power unopposed. The great strength of Europe is that it is not a vast continent, but a group of countries. There must be debate, there must be division of opinion. I don’t want to live in Little America, I want to live in Europe and to be European - that means debate.”

“I continually break my narratives. Nothing depresses me more than seeing a page with no breaks in it. It's such a lot to read, apart from anything else. I like the spaces and the pauses that you can make. I think it's also important to offer these forceful interruptions to people's concentration, because the problem with a running narrative is that people skip. We all do. You're looking for the story. The language becomes something which simply conveys meaning, and not something in its own right. I believe it should be something in its own right, and that it needs to be concentrated on, just in the way that poetry does, without looking for the next bit of the story. Otherwise reading becomes faintly pornographic doesn't it? Because you just look for the next bit of excitement. So what I try to do always, is remind the reader that they are reading. That this is something which demands concentration. It's not like watching television.”