Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

This passionate memoir in part looks back at the material covered in ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.’ The novel was amusing and challenging to conventional morality in its day, but the memoir is a little darker in its content than its semi-autobiographical predecessor. Nevertheless, the genuine virtuosity of the author is on show in both narratives.

The reader is taken on a troubled journey. Identity and love are grappled with in a fragmented text. Although the writer seems harsh on herself and others, she is a winning companion. The pages turn easily. Insights and wit decorate the story, meaning that any temptation to engage in serious criticism is dimmed. Real northern brio from the streets of Accrington is used to subvert the principles of political correctness:

“We went past Woolworths- ‘A Den of Vice.’ Past Marks and Spencer’s- ‘The Jews killed Christ.’ Past the funeral parlour and the pie shop- ‘They share an oven.’ Past the biscuit stall and its moon-faced owners- ‘Incest.’ Past the pet parlour- ‘Bestiality.’ Past the bank- ‘Usury.’ Past the Citizens Advice Bureau- ‘Communists.'”

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