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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

A fellow LPN-er tipped me off to read Jeanette Winterson’s latest book, and I’m feeling equally evangelical about it now (having read it, gripped in two short-ish sittings). Why be happy when you could be normal? is a question asked of Winterson by her adoptive mother, known by many from Winterson’s debut memoir/novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

This time, Winterson re-visits her childhood shadowed by her Armageddon-obsessed giantess of a mother, before leaping ahead twenty five years (by way of ‘Intermission’) to the tracing of her birth mother, with Susie Orbach alongside. The trajectory isn’t smooth, Winterson suffers a breakdown and suicide attempt along the way. I won’t review it more than this, as there are far better ones out there (including this one by the brilliant Zoe Williams). But I just wanted to share some quotes:

…the past is so hard to shift. It comes with us like a chaperone, standing between us and the newness of the present – the new chance.

In the economy of the body, the limbic highway takes precedence over the neural pathways. We were designed and built to feel, and there is no thought, no state of mind, that is not also a feeling state.

Nobody can feel too much, though many of us work hard at feeling too little.

(at her father’s funeral): When I stood up to speak about Dad, I said, ‘The things that I regret in my life are not errors of judgement but failures of feeling.’

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