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The World and Other Places: Stories [Paperback]

Jeanette Winterson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 27 2000
In this, her first collection of short stories, Jeanette Winterson reveals all the facets of her extraordinary imagination. Whether transporting us to bizarre new geographies - a world where sleep is illegal, an island of diamonds where the rich wear jewellery made of coal - or recalling the joy and pain of owning a brand-new dog, Winterson proves herself a master of the short form. In prose that is almost tactile, full of imagery and word play, she creates worlds that are at once familiar yet shockingly strange. For anyone who has been moved by Jeanette Winterson's novels, The World and Other Places is essential reading: a grand celebration of Winterson's gifts that spans her entire literary career.

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From Amazon

Her first short story collection exhibits the multitude of talents that have made English novelist Jeanette Winterson not just admired but beloved by her many fans. There are the surprising, fresh little phrases minted expressly to convey the delicate realities of the made-up world. There's the humor, fierce and sly but always kind. There's the imagination that changes gender and historical epoch at whim, and does so convincingly; and the characters themselves, a sundry bunch of men and women not necessarily successful or commendable but always, somehow, likable. Best of all, by their very diversity, these stories reveal glimpses of the smart and enigmatic woman behind the work.

In "Atlantic Crossing," Winterson becomes a middle-aged businessman of the mid-20th century, accidentally assigned to share his second-class cabin with a young black woman on a transatlantic crossing. In the realm of event, little happens, but in its depth of perception and what it tells of the nuances of regret, the story is as rich as a novel in another writer's hands. A few scant pages later, Winterson becomes a kind of lost female Homer, telling Orion's story from Artemis's point of view: "When she returned she saw this huge rag of a man eating her goat, raw.... His reputation hung about him like bad breath." In "The Poetics of Sex," she creates a lesbian love story that evokes her characters' personalities as explicitly as their erotic pleasures. "The 24-Hour Dog," the story of a woman writer returning a puppy she had thought to adopt, is remorseless as a psychological thriller in the squirmy depths it plumbs: "I had made every preparation, every calculation, except for those two essentials that could not be calculated: his heart and mine." Read The World and Other Places twice, once for instruction, once for joy. --Joyce Thompson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The detached awareness of Winterson's characters, with their biblically informed psyches and receptivity to the paranormal, make the 17 stories of this collection more proverbial than narrative. When in her acknowledgments Winterson (Gut Symmetries) thanks those who have "bought or bludgeoned" them from her, she's quite right: there's nothing fulsome here. Her spare gestures reduce prose to an eerie elemental state. In "The 24-Hour Dog," the narrator's encounter with a two-month-old puppy purchased from a farmer transports her: "The Sistine Chapel is unpainted, no book has been written. There is the moon, the water, the night, one creature's need and another's response. The moment between chaos and shape and I say his name and he hears me." In other stories, such as "O'Brien's First Christmas," the alien intrudes in the form of a midnight visitation by a tutued fairy on a downcast shopgirl. The feminist allegory "Orion" recasts the myth of Artemis and her predatory paramour; "Disappearance I" imagines a futuristic dystopia in which sleep has become as taboo as red light sex. Though the aftertaste of this unflinchingly provocative and stringently witty collection is somewhat bitter, Winterson's stories reveal another facet of a writer much acclaimed for her virtuosity and complexity.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Inventive is Sometimes a Good Thing... Sept. 20 2000
Format:Paperback
...And other times it's just confusing.
I've always loved Jeanette Winterson's writing and her inventiveness, bravery, wit and amazing poetic voice. There were several stories in this collection I had seen in other places and I was happy to see them again. "The Poetics of Sex" was one of those stories that I think many who know her are familiar with. A couple of tamer lines from it read:
"I thought I had lost Picasso. I thought the bright form that shapes my days had left me. I was loose at the edges, liquid with uncertainty. The taut lines of love slackened. I felt myself unravelling backwards, away from her."
Winteson's tales of obsessive love or triangles are, in my opinion, her strongest and tend to resonate with me most both for the beauty of her language and her force in coming to the truth in them. There are not, however, many examples of this in this book and though the first half held my interest through a string of odd and surprising people and events - the last third of book completely lost me and I was forcing myself to get through it just to say I had finished it. There were Newtonian tangents and whole worlds where the rules of physics are broken and I just wasn't able to stay with it.
"The World and Other Places", "The Poetics of Sex" and "The Green Man" were my favorites in this collection. "The Green Man" especially.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read July 18 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Jeanette Winterson is acclaimed as the foremost lesbian writer today. Don't let this title fool you. I'm not a lesbian or gay, and I still appreciate the fine writing I found in The World and Other Places. This book is introduced as a collection of stories. While there are some sort narratives, many of the pieces in this collection could be considered prose poems. In these little portraits, Winterson uses peculiar and striking metaphor to describe the love between people (and even between one person and a dog). Most of these prose-poems linger after you read them, and warrant a second look or closer reading. With vast subjects ranging from time and space and love, it is difficult to grasp the meaning after one quick glance over. Winterson also shows a great deal of breath: the narration and main characters vary greatly as you move through the book. The comments in the narrations have several points that do make you try and interpret what exactly is being said. One of my only gripes is that some of the pieces are very political. Somehow, a few of the stories or prose poems reminded me of the last hundred pages of Richard Wright's Native Son. Rather than telling an interesting story will issues to be discussed, Winterson just latches on to a sort of in your face, "I'm a lesbian, so that makes this special" message, which, rather than being interesting, just bored me most of the time. Other than that, there were really only minor draw backs for me (meaning, maybe I didn't like a story or two. Isn't that expected?). I admit that I enjoy strange stories, so, of course, this book is not for every reader, and I'm sure there will be many reader who do not accepted its slightly bizarre presentation. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Juicy reading Oct. 30 2000
Format:Paperback
I find Winterson's writing and style utterly electrifying. These various stories, some of which delve into the theme of what one risks reveals what one values, explore a variety of worlds and lives. One or two of the stories didn't resonate with me as much as the others, but overall this collection is marvelous. From the lush "The Poetics of Sex" to the dazzling "Orion" to the delightful "Turn of the World", these stories border on fables, and reminded me of works by Emma Donoghue, Angela Carter, and Ben Marcus, among others. Such an invigorating assortment that is certain to gratify daring readers.
My favorite line is from the story "Orion": "She realised that the only war worth fighting was the one that raged within; the rest were all diversions."
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4.0 out of 5 stars A new friend Dec 10 2000
Format:Paperback
Jeanette Winterson and I have become friends. What a little gem of short stories. I picked this book up for $1.00 at a charity sponsored book sale and now I feel guilty for not paying more for it. Jeanette has had me laughing, hoping and remembering since page 1. Her whimsy and honest insight has kept me turning pages - and occassionally re-reading stories. Thanks Jeanette.
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