Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Notes on a Reading by Jeanette Winterson


                                                                                         (photo from the Guardian)
I saw Jeanette Winterson read from her memoir tonight. She was jet-lagged, witty, intense, and could answer a question like "Where do you get your ideas," with a three paragraph spoken essay that was cogent, entertaining, and meaningful.  Here is what I wrote in my little notebook as I listened to her speak. Much of the longer phrases are direct quotations, the individual words are all ones she used:
I was like a flare. Disaster. Phone booth.
  Copper--plate handwriting.  Loomed up. Uncarried
child.
  Shut yourself up in your grief.  Duffel-coat.
I was selling my story against hers--part fact, part fiction is what life is.
When you are a solitary child you find an imaginary friend. I thought
the measure of love was loss. Gap. Opening.
Version. Silence, burden, grave. Wait
until the dead were gone. Promise
  box. Words become clues. Both of us endlessly
ransacking
     the house.  The night bus. Coarseness
for my own sake.  Secrecy. Brilliance--unravel
     it. The words are there. How
do we make sure we are people worth knowing?  To say
that art is a luxury is to say that being human
   is a luxury. Begin
with a sentence and go on.

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