Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WINTERSON | Started on The Stone Gods



On the airwaves, all the talk is of the new blue planet ― pristine and habitable, like our own 65 million years ago, before we took it to the edge of destruction. And off the air, Billie and Spike are falling in love. What wil happen when their story combines with the world's story, as they whirl towards Planet Blue, into the future? Will they ― and we ― ever find a safe landing place?

An interplanetary love story ― of Billie and Spike, of the past and the future; a traveller's tale; a hymn to thebeauty of the world: The Stone Gods is Jeanette Winterson at her brilliant best. Playful, passionate, polemical, and frequently very funny, this is a novel which will change forever the stories we tell about the earth, about love and about stories themselves.

So it says inside the Uncorrected Proof copy of Jeanette Winterson's newest release, The Stone Gods, coming out September 2007. No matter how much her previous works infuriates me, I still find myself faithfully looking forward to the next Jeanette Winterson title. Perhaps it is because I am a steadfast sort.

I'm only a few pages into this new book. The Stone Gods take place in a pseudo-Brave New World sci-fi future. The population has largely ceased to know how to read anymore, relying on speech-recognition technology to get by. The world is dying, the people have exploited the resources and now they are looking to this newly discovered Blue Planet. To colonize, to start afresh.

In this new world, is Billie Crusoe (ah, the suggestiveness of nomenclatures. Hermit. Castaway. The self-sufficient one. Who will be the Friday to this Crusoe?) An odd fish that still insists on writing with pen and paper. Who has a farm. Who shares a few traits with Winterson herself. I think I know what will happen next. S/he (once again, the gender ambiguous protagonist, like Written On the Body) will meet another, much like himself/herself - but different. They will fall in love. They will run away together in a new Eden.

This is what I guess will happen. Because I have just started this book, so I can only guess. Because I adore Winterson I cannot read anything else until I devour The Stone Gods. All her books come back to one theme, and one theme only: Love.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know she had a new book coming out. Looking forward to what you think of it. Oh, and off topic, but I thought I'd let you know I finally have my own copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. There will be cupcake baking at my house this weekend!

darkorpheus said...

Oh, fun! I just got my Bailey's - so there should be tiramisu this weekend.

If it's a success, there will be pictures. If not - you shall not hear about it anytime soon. ;p

Anonymous said...

hmmm... interesting.

i just finished "sexing the cherry" and ... basically enjoyed it - only after the first 80 pages that is. i like the idea, and its cool, but it took way too long to start coming together. a reader simply can't sustain interest in something as incohesive as those firsty 80 pages...

what did you think?

i want to write a review about it, but i don't think there's any way to do that without giving key plot elements away, and i don't want to do that.

darkorpheus said...

Jean Pierre "Sexing the cherry" was the book I have the most problem with. I read it a few times, and it does get easier as I re-read it. It only "made sense" when I read it was her riff on T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets".

TS Eliot didn't make much sense until I stopped trying to impose a narrative on it and just let the language carry me. Same with Ms Winterson.

I think "Sexing the Cherry" wasn't about the plot - it was Winterson exploring language, cyclical memory and history - it should be okay to have some spoiler alerts and just write.

And Winterson always believe we should make effort with art. She does consider herself the heir to Virginia Woolf - she's trying to be difficult, I think. :)

charlotte said...

I'm commenting as JPs wife. I bought him sexing the cherry simply because i found it so intersting and different. Something to get the mind going. But as far as narrative goes - I agree with him - not in the first 80 pages. I think you should write a review JP.

And I agree - definitely trying to be the heir to Virginia Wolfe. Probably a bit too self aware. Loved Oragnes are not the only fruit though.

Anonymous said...

yeah, i think you're right that one has to view it in terms of cyclical memory, history and language.

i like how it explored identity - the identity of being a woman with the giant woman and the dancing princesses and also the two identities of the two protagonists.

i'm going to give the review a go.

so whats this four quartets then?

darkorpheus said...

Charlotte Hi, nice of you of drop by. Although, you can comment as yourself too. You don't have to be just JP's wife. :)

I love Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit too. The humour, memory as fiction. How we tell the truth through stories.

With Oranges, I love how it shows narrative as a way of constructing our lives. My favourite part is how the narrator's mother always changes the ending to Jane Eyre, so that Jane marries St John Rivers and goes off to be a missionary.

Storytelling afterall, is a way of making meaning and connections. And the narrator's mother is the ultimate editor.

If our lives are the sum of the stories we tell ourselves, then why not tell ourselves the happy stories? Oranges acknowledges its own construct, yet hidden within the fictionalisation of a life are more stories, and many truths.

JP I'm quoting the lines that most echoes the themes of "Sexing the Cherry":

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstractin
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened"
~ 'Burnt Norton', Four Quartets

"Every journey conceals another journey within its lines: the path not taken and the forgotten angle. These are journeys I wish to record. not the ones I made, but the ones I might have made, or perhaps did make in some other place or time." ~ "Sexing the Cherry"

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"
~ 'Little Gidding', Four Quartets

You should write a review. Or at least something on your thoughts on it.