Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jeanette Winterson: Lighthousekeeping

Sometimes she just completely hits the spot, Winterson does. This one does for me. One of the narratives is of Silver, a girl born out of wedlock in a small Scottish town/village, and who goes to live with the lighthousekeeper Pew when she is orphaned. Pew teaches her that the world is made of stories, and that the lighthousekeeper tells them. One of his stories is about Babel Dark, son of the man who built the lighthouse and about his cruelty to his wife because of his heartbreaking love for his first love and his mistress. Winterson can make you feel sympathy for a wife-beater. Silver tells us the story of her life - not all of it, but the bits she wants to tell, and also of Tristan and Isolde. This sounds like a lot, but it's beautifully sparse and the sections of what's told are carefully chosen. It touches me a lot… "the stories I want to tell you will light up part of my life, and leave the rest in darkness. You don't need to know everything. There is no everything. The stories themselves make the meaning." I can't find all the quotes, but something is here that I want to think more about, something about the importance of telling yourself as a story. I've been struggling against that because it hasn't felt real, but maybe that's okay. Maybe unreal is good?

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