Get the entire Why Be Happy? LitChart as a printable PDF. "My students can't - Graham S. Download it! Why be happy when you could be pflegeelternnetz.info Why be happy when you could be pflegeelternnetz.info Jeanette states that “ adopted children are self-invented because we have to be,” and her whole life has. As a writer, Jeanette Winterson is keenly aware that life can often be stranger than fiction. Why Be Why be happy when you could be pflegeelternnetz.info
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And normal to have two sets of false teeth, and a revolver in the duster drawer. .. How you meet your 'hap' will determine whether or not you can be 'happy'. I could see her through her voice, her form solidifying in front of me as she talked. and we'll act like it's normal to leave your kid outside all night, and normal. Editorial Reviews. From Bookforum. In her new memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be In Why Be Happy, [Winterson's] emotional life is laid bare.
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. Audible book Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally bestselling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction. I love her style of writing. You're in the hands of a master builder who has remixed the memoir into a work of terror and beauty. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.
There is understandable bitterness towards Mrs W, but despite rejecting the church, she is also grateful to it in some ways. Bible study worked their brains". An unintended consequence being that familiarity with the Bible and daily use of thee and thou in their own speech, made Shakespeare was relatively accessible.
She documents the contradictions of her church some unpleasant, some merely comical with a degree of fondness. In a similar vein, "The one good thing about being shut in a coal hole is that it prompts reflection"! She says that as a child, she always wanted to escape her life, as did Mrs W in a different way every night she prayed "Lord, let me die". The result of this strange and traumatic upbringing is that: Words are the part of silence that can be spoken.
Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent. And when I did she never forgave me. Winterson herself categorises three types of ending: View all 33 comments. Oct 21, Michael rated it it was amazing Shelves: My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.
In matter-of-fact prose, with great wit, the author confronts the harrowing conditions of her ch My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog. In matter-of-fact prose, with great wit, the author confronts the harrowing conditions of her childhood; narrates the social history of her working-class hometown; and recounts how her local library helped inspire her to seek a better life.
Compared to the first, it understandably feels less polished and more enmeshed in uncertainty. View all 18 comments. This book came in the mail today, I opened the package, opened the book and looked at a few pages randomly, started reading, and about half an hour later turned back to the beginning so I could start reading it properly. That's as good a star ranking as anything, I think. This book isn't really a memoir, but then again, if you expect linear storytelling from Jeanette Winterson What made it amazing for me is the power, the fire, of Winterson's descriptions of reading, her personal, visceral attachment to books.
Clever-clever, marketing department. But this book is the story of what didn't get into the story of Oranges: Winterson called it the "backstory" of Oranges on her blog, which fits: Oranges was a self-made origin myth; this goes back further, to the origin of that origin myth, and while the tale is still self-made, one of its larger points is how made we are by what happens to us, who brings us up, who nurtures us.
Our background -- which she brings to the fore of her story. This book is much more angry than Oranges which had a kind of deliberately willed, commanded, courage and optimism which is part of Winterson's own defiant makeup; she charmingly explains the difference between her and her adopted mother in their choice of favourite hymns: Winterson writes about the blighting of the industrial North of England -- her description of Manchester as the country's "engine" is stunning -- and Thatcherism, the tutor who said to her at Oxford, "You are the working-class experiment" her best friend got "You are the black experiment" , and there's a striking paragraph-long explosion at cultural critics who called her "arrogant" after her books were published, who didn't understand that for a working-class girl daring to dream of being an author, that wasn't arrogance, it was "politics.
She was a working class girl, before feminism, living in Salford, and she had incredible talent. She should have been up there in the theatre along with Osborne and Pinter. She was born in and wrote A Taste of Honey as her first play when she was about She co-wrote the movie with Tony Richardson and it won everything at Cannes. Her second play faltered, and she went into film work. There was so much more she could have done and how amazing to see a woman at the centre of the Kitchen Sink Realism as well as all those male heroes… We have to look after people.
Space, time, encouragement, there is no such thing as the lone genius or the lone talent. At the end of the book, Winterson meets her biological mother and half-brother, and a heap of other relations, and thinks sadly how intelligent they all are, how they're trying to read and study and learn on their own just as she did; and she beautifully describes being nurtured by a number of different women, from the female librarian who gave her a spare room to her present partner, Susie Orbach warning: A refrain in the book is about want -- You were wanted, Jeanette -- how her birth mother wanted but couldn't keep her, and "Mrs Winterson" had her but didn't want her.
But, as Julie Myerson said: Of course, one of the book's queasiest ironies — and one you sense Winterson is fully aware of — is that it was Mrs Winterson who made her into a writer. By attempting to stunt her daughter's emotional and imaginative growth with fear and religion, she succeeded in doing the exact opposite.
She created someone who learned to live in her head, and to love, trust and remember words: Excerpt from the book in the Grauniad - this is what made me buy it from Amazon. I linked it to nearly every one of my friends. Its ending deserves to be quoted in full: I realised something important: Only what is inside you is safe. I began to memorise texts. We had always memorised long chunks of the Bible, and it seems that people in oral traditions have better memories than those who rely on printed text.
The rhythm and image of poetry make it easier to recall than prose, easier to chant. But I needed prose too, and so I made my own concise versions of 19th-century novels — going for the talismanic, not worrying much about the plot. I had lines inside me — a string of guiding lights. I had language. The books had gone, but they were objects; what they held could not be so easily destroyed. What they held was already inside me, and together we would get away.
And standing over the smouldering pile of paper and type, still warm the next cold morning, I understood that there was something else I could do. View all 6 comments. Jun 16, Oriana rated it it was amazing Shelves: I finished this book on a frigid Sunday afternoon, lying lazily on my too-deep couch, covered in a ridiculously soft blanket, with my boyfriend cackling in the other room while watching "news fails" on YouTube and my little dog curled up by my side, lending me his warmth.
I have had such an easy life, it is sometimes difficult to fathom. Jeanette Winterson has not had an easy life. She has spent her life overcoming—overcoming abandonment and adoption, overcoming a lack of love, overcoming poverty, overcoming provincialism, overcoming heteronormativity, overcoming the judgments of the entire world. And yet this memoir, which I expected to be agonizing, is instead matter-of-fact, witty, piercing, and generally triumphant.
Jeanette is not a dweller or a wallower, at least not anymore; she is frank about the difficulties she has gone through, relating even rather harrowing anecdotes with grace and compassion. Hers is a journey, always, toward understanding: The book is in two parts. The first, from birth more or less to college, has a narrative tone that is at a slight remove from the story.
Jeanette is, of course, a writer, with a writer's sense of pacing, of plot arc, of what to reveal and when to reveal it, of the flourishes necessary to a tale well told. She relates most of the anecdotes from her childhood smoothly—after all, she's spent her whole career polishing and retelling them. This part of the story is moving but a bit pat; it is clever and rather self-aware, although it is certainly devastating and illuminating in turns. But then—after a two-page "interlude" that encompasses about twenty-five years—the second half of the book is practically in the present, starting maybe five years ago, and it encompasses Jeanette's search for her birth mother.
And suddenly the narrative becomes ragged, jagged, raw. This is the story Jeanette is still living, and it has not been rehearsed; it has barely even got done being lived. She navigates the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the British legal system with a somewhat crazed frenzy, and with the help of kind souls along the way.
She opens up her brain and her body and lets us look right in, into her hysterical fears, her calcified anger, the wailing hopefulness she has spent her whole life tamping down into frustration. I can't even describe it; it's devastating, enraging, anxiety-ridden, and so so intense.
And even still, clever! Her writing style throughout is very British and dry, no-nonsense-y and simple but shot through with literary allusions, with whole quoted poems and passages. And funny , I can't stress that enough, because it was the last thing I was expecting. I'm tempted to start quoting lines, but I'd wind up transcribing pages and pages, and I haven't got the time.
But listen: I am now going to sink right back into my too-deep couch, grab the cuddly dog, and start rereading Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. And after that I'm going to Netflix the BBC movie of it, and then I'm going to comb my shelves and my friends' shelves for all her other books, which I've either never read or haven't read in years.
Jeanette, I love you. You are astonishing. View all 16 comments. Jan 12, Paul rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a remarkable memoir, honest and very moving; beautifully written and there is a passion for reading and books that runs through it. Winterson describes books as her hearth and home and I know exactly what she means. As well as being a moving memoir, it is a memoir that will resonate with every lover of books.
The second half takes a few snapshots from her life, her time at university and her breakdown at the end of a relationship: Some parts of this certainly resonated with me as I was also brought up in an Elim Pentecostal Church and recognised some of the character traits and apocalyptic beliefs and the exorcism.
The telling title comes from the moment Winterson told her mother she was leaving home because she was in love with a girl and was happy. It was a bomb site between us. Another thing that really resonates with readers.
Winterson also manages throughout to show even her mother as human and severely damaged herself as well as the monster she undoubtedly was. Winterson is very honest about herself: View all 14 comments. Aug 05, Paul Bryant rated it really liked it Shelves: This is about a girl who was adopted by a religious lunatic and who realised she was a lesbian.
Uh oh. It's a squirmy, maddening, elusive, full-frontal, raging, psychonewagebabbly, moving, heartfelt, essential memoir. Memoirs are for readers who can contain their irritation at being fed only what the author wants them to be fed. We are often left panting with our tongues lolling and whining. Poor memoir readers! So, Oranges is great but the other two JW novels I read The Passion and Sexing the Cherry each earned two meagre stars — fully of gorgeous paragraphs they may be, but I could not make head nor tail of them.
This has happened to me before.
Horrible stuff! Oh - you love those albums? She was a monster, but she was my monster. This mother was physically huge and a religious fruitcake, a key member of an evangelical sect who had strict rules about everything. So on top of the dire poverty of working class England in the 60s and 70s, you had another whole set of deprivations imposed. It is hard to understand the contradictions unless you have lived them: TV was OK but not on Sundays.
On Sundays you covered the set with a cloth. This book is full of great, pained observations on the English working class of the 60s and 70s: A lot of women had moustaches in those days. Love thyself, love others, learn how to love, love is all you need, love loves to love love. But JW is all about the love, the difficulty of it, the elusiveness of it, the overwhelming blah blah blah of it. Okay — as you see, hampers full of food for thought and many hoots of laughter to be had are right here — a lovely book.
Oct 02, jo rated it it was amazing Shelves: View all 25 comments. Jan 19, Iris P rated it it was amazing Shelves: I usually don't read lots of memoirs and biographies, in general I prefer fiction or non-fiction, but I must say thought that this is one of the most genuine and emotional memoirs I've ever read.
Jeannette Winterson was born in Manchester, England, and grew up in Accrington, Lacarshire after being adopted by Constance and John William Winterson in the early 's. This book recounts her quest for her identity, origin, her birth mother and ultimately for love and acceptance. It's a different kin I usually don't read lots of memoirs and biographies, in general I prefer fiction or non-fiction, but I must say thought that this is one of the most genuine and emotional memoirs I've ever read.
It's a different kind of memoir in that is doesn't follows a chronological structure. She jumps back and forth between different periods in her life, and that's probably why the book feels so authentic, you have a sense that you are sitting down with a good friend while she is telling you her story. The author comes across as a clever, witty, and as a person in search of answers. At times she writes with great urgency, almost desperation. It's feels as if she's running out of time and want to explain things to you, she wants to make sure you understand her history.
Which l suppose is one of the reasons why people write these type memoirs, I think that this process provides for many emotional closure. Winterson has a great sense of humor and is a wonderful conversationalist.
Throughout the book she takes time to explain some of the cultural, religious and political ethos of these times in the UK. There are also quite a few extremely funny anecdotes. I love that in the middle of such a difficult upbringing, the author has the capacity to laugh at some rather peculiar and crazy circumstances.
The center theme of the memoir is her descriptions of her very peculiar Pentecostal upbringing as well as her tumultuous relationship with her adoptive mother, whom she calls through most of the book "Mrs. Winterson is described as an "out of scale, larger than life" woman who at times sounds pretty much deranged. A woman opposed to any sort of intimacy, sexual or otherwise, she casts a huge shadow on the Winterson's household, and little Jeannette doesn't feel loved by either parent.
Her father is a withdrawn, simple man who has been belittled by his wife and is incapable of standing up for himself, let alone for his adoptive daughter. In Mrs. Winterson's ultra fundamentalist version of Christianity, there's not room for reading secular books, so she forbids Jeannette from reading anything other than the Bible.
Jeannette doesn't obeys, of course, and when Mrs. W discovers dozens of books hidden under Jeannette's mattress, she burns them all. This was to me a painful passage to read as I am sure it would be for most readers Later on, Mrs. Winterson discovers that Jeannette is attracted to women and has in fact started a relationship with a girl that also attends her church, this sets in motion a series of events, culminating with the spectacle of a 3-day exorcism performed by the pastor who tries to, to put it on contemporary terms "pray the gay away".
When Jeannette is 16 years old, she is evicted from her home after Mrs. W discovers a 2nd girlfriend, initially she lives in her car, but shortly after she gets under a roof, when a sympathetic teacher takes pity on her and allows her to stay in her house. There's a very good public library in her town, and she's determined to read all the available authors in alphabetical order. You step through. The memoir then makes a big jump, and for whatever reason the author decides to take her story 25 years later, when she has just broken up with her girlfriend of 6 years.
This is when her writing becomes more introspective, a search to connect the past with the present. By now, Mrs. W has passed away and Jeannette has managed to maintain an almost normal relationship with her father. The author then begins the search for her birth mother, which is perhaps where the reader can feel a deeper sense of empathy and connection with her. She is desperate to find that final link to her past, yet she's also petrified by fear of what she might find. Who can't relate to that feeling?
After jumping many hoops throughout the inept and insensible bureaucracy that apparently rules the adoption system in the UK I suspect, the same is true in the US and other Western countries , she manages to find Ann, her birth mother, makes peace with her and her decision to give Jeannette away. Of course, this being real life, there's not exactly a happy ending, not in the strict sense of the word anyway, so after her first meeting with Ann, she quickly comes to the realization that the instant connection she might had been anticipating does not come.
Finally, I think that what saves Jeannette Winston is that she possesses both a very clever and inquisitive mind as well as an indomitable and defiant personality. By the end of the book, she appears to have accomplish an exorcism of her own: She was a monster but she was my monster".
We humans are full of contradictions, aren't we?
Jeannette Winterson is the audiobook narrator of her memoir, I am for the most part, not a fan of authors narrating their own books and I do preferred that they leave this to the professionals, with that said, Winterson really did a wonderful job.
Perhaps because of the 1st person narrative and also because her writing style is so intense, I don't imagine anybody else being able to narrate this book as well as she did. This is an unforgettable and extraordinary memoir. View all 24 comments.
Mar 10, Sophie Carlon rated it it was amazing Shelves: Read this if you want your heart broken. Read this if you need it healed. There is still a popular fantasy, long since disproved by both psychoanalysis and science, and never believed by any poet or mystic, that it is possible to have a thought without a feeling I might have expected the audacity of this book, but the humility startled me.
I expected the old trauma, but the fresh wounds caught me off guard. I was reminded of What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness which I didn't think much of at all; the trauma memoir is not a genre I get along with. I love t There is still a popular fantasy, long since disproved by both psychoanalysis and science, and never believed by any poet or mystic, that it is possible to have a thought without a feeling I might have expected the audacity of this book, but the humility startled me.
I love the fictionalised version of Jeanette's growing up, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit so much; it's one of my favourite books, and here she shares that reading herself as fiction as well as fact was necessary and liberating.
I think it was necessary for me to enjoy the story, too. I felt for Jeanette here, and I appreciated her insights and on-point mini-polemics, especially into politics and northern working class life, but I definitely got more out of Oranges. Lessing knew what she was talking about.
I was also furious about the callous bureaucracy Jeanette faced when trying to find her birth mother. What the hell??!? The naked honesty with which she admits her struggles to love and be loved is so humbling, almost intimidating. The social worker, thankfully, knew exactly what to say, though nothing could ever be enough.
Most strangely I felt myself working towards some new spaces of creative self acceptance as I read. And most importantly, I was reminded to let myself feel, to love life and be open even when it hurts to be open. What else can I say? There are lots of quotables, particularly about books as homes and hearths , but this is my favourite. I'm stashing it for later use, and I imagine I'll be pulling it out pretty regularly: Rewrite them. Rewrite the hurt. It's why I am a writer - I don't say 'decided' to be, or 'became'.
It was not an act of will or even a conscious choice. To avoid the narrow mesh of Mrs Winterson's story I had to be able to tell my own. Part fact part fiction is what life is. And it is always a cover story. I wrote my way out. She said, 'But it's not true This was a woman who explained the flash-dash of mice activity in the kitchen as ectoplasm. There was a terraced house in Accrington, in Lancashire - we called those houses two-up two-down: Three of us lived together in that house for sixteen years.
I told my version - faithful and invented, accurate and misremembered, shuffled in time. I told myself as hero like any shipwreck story. It was a shipwreck, and me thrown on the coastline of humankind, and finding it not altogether human, and rarely kind. And I suppose that the saddest thing for me, thinking about the cover version that is Oranges , is that I wrote a story I could live with.
The other one was too painful. I could not survive it. I am often asked, in a tick-box kind of way, what is 'true' and what is not 'true' in Oranges. Did I work in a funeral parlour? Did I drive an ice-cream van? Did we have a Gospel Tent? Did Mrs Winterson build her own CB radio?
Did she really stun tomcats with a catapult? I can't answer these questions. I can say that there is a character in Oranges called Testifying Elsie who looks after the little Jeanette and acts as a soft wall against the hurt ling force of Mother.
I wrote her in because I couldn't bear to leave her out. I wrote her in because I really wished it had been that way. When you are a solitary child you find an imaginary friend. There was no Elsie. There was no one like Elsie. Things were much lonelier than that. I spent most of my school years sitting on the railings outside the school gates in the breaks.
I was not a popular or a likeable child; too spiky, too angry, too intense, too odd. The churchgoing didn't encourage school friends, and school situations always pick out the misfit. But even when I did make friends I made sure it went wrong If someone liked me, I waited until she was off guard, and then I told her I didn't want to be her friend any more. I watched the confusion and upset. The tears. Then I ran off, triumphantly in control, and very fast the triumph and the control leaked away, and then I cried and cried, because I had put myself on the outside again, on the doorstep again, where I didn't want to be.
Adoption is outside. You act out what it feels like to be the one who doesn't belong. And you act it out by trying to do to others what has been done to you. It is impossible to believe that anyone loves you for yourself. I never believed that my parents loved me. I tried to love them but it didn't work.
It has taken me a long time to learn how to love - both the giving and the receiving. I loved God of course, in the early days, and God loved me. That was something. And I loved animals and nature. And poetry.
People were the problem. How do you love another person? How do you trust another person to love you? I had no idea. I thought that love was loss.
Why is the measure of love loss? That was the opening line of a novel of mine - Written on the Body Themes All Themes. Symbols All Symbols. Theme Wheel. Themes and Colors. She returns… read full theme analysis. Religion and Control. The Pursuit of Love and Happiness.
To Jeanette, happiness and love are intertwined and they are of paramount importance—the story of her life is the story of her quest for the… read full theme analysis. Get the entire Why Be Happy?
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