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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Hardcover – Mar 6 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Pr (March 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120106
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #346,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Unforgettable... It's the best book I have ever read about the cost of growing up." -- Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times "A searingly felt and expressed autobiography...Funny and profoundly hopeful - a tale of survival" -- Kate Hamer Metro "Vivid, unpredictable, and sometimes mind-rattling memoir... This book... which had been funny enough to make me laugh out loud more times than is advisable on the No 12 bus - turns into something raw and unnerving" -- Julie Myerson Observer "This is certainly the most moving book of Winterson's I have ever read... but it wriggles with humour... At one point I was crying so much I had tears in my ears. There is much here that is impressive, but what I find most unusual about it is the way it deepens one's sympathy, for everyone involved" -- Zoe Williams Guardian "In the 26 years since the publication of her highly acclaimed first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson has proved herself a writer of startling invention, originality and style. Her combination of the magical and the earthy, the rapturous and the matter-of-fact, is unique. It is a strange and felicitous gift, as if the best of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was combined with the best of Alan Bennett... This remarkable account is, among other things, a powerful argument for reading... This memoir is brave and beautiful, a testament to the forces of intelligence, heart and imagination. It is a marvellous book and generous one" Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in Manchester in 1959 and adopted into a family of Pentecostal evangelists, Jeanette Winterson studied at Oxford University. Her debut novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was selected by Michael Cunningham as one of the Good Men Project’s Best LGBT Books of All Time. Her other books include Sexing the Cherry and The Passion. Jeanette has won several prizes including the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewllyn Rhys Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Till Davy on Nov. 6 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ever since my very dear friend Marc quoted from Jeanette Winterson's "Sexing the cherry"("No safety without risk, and what you risk reveals what you value") over dinner earlier this year, which led to my reading that book and, as soon as I could get my hands on them, her other books - I have been fascinated by the way the author tells her story through her stories; genuine and utterly vulnerable,brutally honest and direct, knowing both the limit and the interconnectedness between words and feelings, hauntingly beautiful.

"Why be happy when you could be normal" follows this tradition, but transcends it with a humanity that is deeply moving. While as a reader I agreed with her statement "I do not want to cry. I am crying."(page 184), despite sitting in an open air restaurant in Toronto for lunch on a beautiful day, by page 205 she had this reader in tears ("Darling girl").

The vulnerability that Jeanette (Janet) describes as her experience as an adopted child constructing her identity is really universal: adopted or not (and I am of course not in any way belittling the specific and highly problematic additional burden that adoption may bring) we are all living our lives doing our best to create meaning and understanding for what it is all about and for what we are all about.

One of the best books I have ever read - with greatest admiration for its author: for the skill of her writing, and for the humanity she portraits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andre Gerard on Oct. 31 2011
Format: Hardcover
In the October 28th Guardian, Jeanette has an essay which retells the opening of Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? The retelling is as riveting as the original. In essay and book, Winterson portrays herself as a survivor. Her childhood reads like the darker parts of some Grimms fairytale, even if her telling of the story is often lightened by empathy. Here, for instance, is a description of her often abusive, book-burning, foster mother.

"She filled the phone box. She was out of scale, larger than life. She was like a fairy story where size is approximate and unstable. She loomed up. She expanded. Only later, much later, too late, did I understand how small she was to herself. The baby nobody picked up. The uncarried child still inside her."

A later passage reads:

"Babies are frightening - raw tyrants whose only kingdom is their own body. My new mother had a lot of problems with the body - her own, my dad's, their bodies together, and mine. She had muffled her own body in flesh and clothes, suppressed its appetites with a fearful mixture of nicotine and Jesus, dosed it with purgatives that made her vomit, submitted it to doctors, who administered enemas and pelvic rings, subdued its desires for ordinary touch and comfort. Then suddenly, not out of her own body, and with no preparation, she had a thing that was all body. A burping, vomiting, sprawling faecal thing blasting the house with rude life."

Jeanette makes it hard not to feel some sympathy, even for twisted Mrs. Winterson.

Like many patremoirs, Winterson's matremoir is as much about the power of storytelling as it is about the parent.
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By Dorothyanne Brown TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 13 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book - I bought it because of the title, primarily. Inside, I found a surprisingly endearing, warm, wonderful story of family and growing up and finding ones way.
If I read a book and decide I won't read it again, no matter how much I like it, I release it to the wild - donate it, give it to the library, sell it. I have a hardcover version of this book, which means in moving, it would be on the first to go list.
It's carefully packed. This book is a keeper for me, and a re-reader. It touched my heart.
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Format: Paperback
This is an edgy, sharply honest story, (worts and all )filled with insight and understanding.

If Winterson had not decided that she was the mistress of her own ship, her story could have turned out very differently.

Winterson's memoir is an emphatic reminder that no matter what, each of us CAN earn our own autonomy.

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read one life-loving woman's account of her horrendous childhood, how she dealt with it. Jeanette ultimately wouldn't let a severely dysfunctional upbringing extinguish her joie de vivre. Damaged but undefeated, she shares all.
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By verity on Nov. 23 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an oddly engrossing book. The first bit seemed sort of thrown together, and could have used a more thorough edit, but the rest was a page-turner. Jeanette Winterson is a fascinating person with a fascinating story.
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