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Weight (Canongate Myths) [Paperback]

Jeanette Winterson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep questions Dec 19 2005
By Steven R. McEvoy HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.
Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.
How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question "Why? Why? Why?" this question arises and will not let him go.
So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story Sept. 9 2006
By Steven R. McEvoy HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.

Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.

How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question "Why? Why? Why?" this question arises and will not let him go.

So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story Sept. 9 2006
By Steven R. McEvoy HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.

Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.

How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question "Why? Why? Why?" this question arises and will not let him go.

So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story May 10 2006
By Steven R. McEvoy HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.

Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.

How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question “Why? Why? Why?” this question arises and will not let him go.

So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to do when the Matterhorn is digging into your shoulder... Dec 13 2005
By Kieri - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Winterson's work is always beguiling, and here she proves that often, less is more, especially with a story that she emphasizes again and again has been told before. She wants to tell the story again, and this might be the best retelling of them all.

Atlas, a titan among the Titans, has been sentenced to hold the weight of the world on his immensely strong shoulders for pretty much the whole of time. (Time being relative and unimportant in the long view, we might as well say he must carry the world for all eternity.) He spends his time reflecting on past loves, past mistakes, and, of course, the weight. One day, though, a reprieve comes in an unlikely form: Herakles.

Winterson's Herakles is as un-Kevin Sorboish as one can imagine. He's a drunken, oversexed oaf with an Oedipal fixation on his beautiful stepmother, Hera. (He is also by far the funniest and most lively character in this novella.) He's getting close to the end of his Twelve famous Labors, and he needs Atlas's help. In return, Herakles will hold up the world for just one day.

You probably know how the myth ends. After all, we don't talk about how Herakles shoulders the weight of all Creation, now do we? But then what happened, when Atlas took up his burden again?

Winterson does bring the story into the 20th century, although this is not precisely a "modern retelling" as the jacket description would have you believe. She brings an intriguing twist into the story that, as a devoted dog-person, had me smiling for about a week.

For any fan of Jeanette Winterson, classical lit, history, dog-lovers, and sufferers of Atlas-complexes, this book is a must-have.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep questions pondered Dec 19 2005
By Steven R. McEvoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.

Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.

How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question "Why? Why? Why?" this question arises and will not let him go.

So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Upstanding, Altruistic Heracles Here Sept. 16 2006
By Amy Aldrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I positively LOVED this book. It's the first I read in Canongate's Myth series, and I'm glad I started with this one! I read Weight in a couple of hours, but then it's not all that long (coming in at 151 pages), but in those pages it was fun, outrageous, sad, and well, different! I particularly loved her un-Sorbo like Heracles...he's coarse, vulgar, oversexed...and oh so unlike the Hercules played by Sorbo - and this is a good thing in my book! For Atlas' part, the long suffering god, made to bear the weight of the world upon his shoulders, is relieved of the burden for a short time, but even then he is tricked too early to returning to it...even in this we are given a twist, following Atlas from ancient Greece into the modern space race...I really enjoyed this twist. Weight is kind of a story inside of a story, with side stories even, and I like that about this book, it give one a lot to think about and a whole new twist on these mythic figures.

I've not read any of Winterson's other work (which I may have to try out based on this reading), so I can't compare this to her other work, nor can I compare it to Atwood's Penelopaid (which I have in my library TBR pile...but this one is due in two days and cannot be renewed, so I had to read it NOW)...which is also in the Canongate's series of myths retold... even so, I give Weight a A, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for a quick, fun retelling of the Atlas/Heracles myth.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story Sept. 9 2006
By Steven R. McEvoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Now on to much weightier matters. Winterson takes a much different approach than Atwood. She tells this tale as herself telling her tale retelling a tale. Confusing? No not really. She begins with herself, tells the story of Heracles ad Atlas and then returns to her own life and lessons learnt.

Unlike the Penelopiad, this book Weight is very dark and brooding and leaves one with a feeling of unease as if we missed something, or even that in reading this book, like Pandora, we have opened a box and cannot now close it and will be forever different. Though we are not sure how.

How does Winterson accomplish this? In this deep brooding book she touches something primal inside. Much as Heracles is awoken and bothered by the question "Why? Why? Why?" this question arises and will not let him go.

So too, this book will awaken questions in your mind and your spirit, and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, in this book we will find the questions to lift our weight. If we can learn from it to tell our story we can be freed, and step out from under the burden on our shoulders, as Atlas so desperately desired.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful "modern" retelling of the story of Atlas and Heracles Nov. 21 2005
By sb-lynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is under 150 pages, and it is a quick, fun read.

This is part of the new Canongate mythology series, and this particular novel retells the story of Atlas and Heracles.

For those not familiar with the myth, Heracles is given 12 tasks to complete, in penance for the murder (while made insane by Hera) of his wife and children.

One of those tasks is to retrieve 3 golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides. The only way to do that, is to get Atlas, who is holding the universe on his shoulders, to get the apples for him. Thus, Heracles must hold the universe in his place, and then get Atlas to take it back.

There are definitely some laugh out loud moments. Here is a sample, for anyone interested, from page 57. The scene is between Zeus, in disguise, and Atlas.

"Heracles has his own punishment to bear"

"He is able enough to bear his own and mine for a while. Besides, he wants to think."

Now Zeus was concerned. Real heroes don't think. "What is Heracles thinking about?"

"You want to know a lot for a donkey skin don't you?" said Atlas, who was beginning to suspect his visitor's true identity. "I'll tell you for what it's worth - Heracles is thinking about himself. Yes, Heracles, born with rocks for muscles and a rock between his ears, asked me last night why he should do the gods' bidding. I thought it was a stupid question, hardly a question at all, but it's the first question that Heracles has ever asked, other than Which way? and Are you married?"

This novel is highly recommended. (And it has a terrific cover too.)
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