Monday, March 19, 2012

Why be happy when you could be normal?

Despite my best efforts, not much happening today. Found myself unable to write, and business avenues seem temporarily blocked. Instead I went to the gym, then voraciously read Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?.

I can't remember when I last consumed a book so quickly. It is a mainly a memoir about her childhood, dominated by the religious and depressive monster, referred to as Mrs Winterson, who adopted her. At one time Mrs Winterson made a bonfire of books that Jeanette had hidden under her bed. It also sketches the circumstances that lead to the publication of her first and largely autobiographical book Oranges are not the only fruit in her mid twenties. It then fast-forwards to a breakdown she had in recent years and her sucessful attempt to find her real mother, and a kind of peace made with the memory of Mrs Winterson.

The book resonanted with me, just because her experiences where a little similar to my own, but far more dramatic. Jeanette Winterson and I are almost the same age and one of her mother's favourite punishments would be to lock her out so she would spend the night on the doorstep. Some of my earliest memories are of being locked into the back garden by my paternal grandmother, and of sitting by a door that would never open. She talks about this quite a bit, and it is something that I have been trying unsuccessfully to write about.

Although obviously not adopted like Winterson, I have not seen my real father since I was five and am subject to fleeting curiosities about him and my other relatives. Additionally my stepfather Gerald recently contacted me directly for the first time in 30 years, so I am working out about what I feel about this, and the book was somehow helpful in thinking about this too.

I like this particular quote from the book very much:

"Creativity is on the side of health - it isn't the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness."

I couldn't agree more.

No comments: