Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WEIGHT by Jeanette Winterson

5 out of 5

  • Pub. Date: December 2007

  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

  • Sold By: Barnes & Noble

  • Format: NOOK Book (eBook)


‘Tell me the time’ you say. And what you really say is ‘Tell me a story.’

Here’s one I haven’t been able to put down.

Weight of the World My father was Poseidon. My mother was the Earth.
My father loved the strong outlines of my mother’s body. He loved her demarcations and her boundaries. He knew where he stood with her. She was solid, certain, shaped and material.

My mother loved my father because he recognised no boundaries. His ambitions were tidal. He swept, he sank, he flooded, he re-formed. Poseidon was a deluge of a man. Power flowed off him. He was deep, sometimes calm, but never still.

My mother and father teemed with life. They were life. Creation depended on them and had done so before there was air or fire. They sustained so much. They were so much. To each other they were irresistible.

Both were volatile. My father obviously so, my mother more alarmingly. She was serene as a rock but volcano’d with anger. She was quiet as a desert but tectonically challenged. When my mother threw a plate across the room, the whole world felt the crash. My father could be whipped into a storm in moments. My mother grumbled and growled and shook for days or weeks or months until her rage fissured and crumpled entire cities or forced human kind into lava-like submission.

Humankind . . . They never could see it coming. Look at Pompeii. There they are in the bathouses, sitting in their chairs, wearing skeletal looks of charred surprise.

When my father wooed my mother she lapped it up. He was playful, he was warm, he waited for her in the bright blue shallows and came a little closer, then drew back, and his pull was to leave a little gift on her shore; a piece of coral, mother of pearl, a shell as spiralled as a dream.

Sometimes he was a long way out and she missed him and the beached fishes gasped for breath. Then he was all over her again, and they were mermaids together, because there was always something feminine about my father, for all his power. Earth and water are the same kind, just as fire and air are their opposites.

She loved him because he showed her to herself. He was her moving mirror. He took her round the world, the world that she was, and held it up for her to see, her beauty of forests and cliffs and coastlines and wild places. To him she was both paradise and fear and he loved both. Together they went where no human had ever been. Places only they could go, places only they could be. Wherever he went, she was there; a gentle restraint, a serious reminder; the earth and the waters that covered the earth. He knew though, that while he could not cover the whole of her, she underpinned the whole of him. For all his strength, she was strong.


A novelist whose honours include England’s Whitbread Prize, and the American Academy’s E. M. Forster Award, as well as the Prix d’argent at the Cannes Film Festival, Jeanette Winterson burst onto the literary scene as a very young woman in 1985 with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Her subsequent novels, including Sexing the Cherry, The Passion,Written on the Body, and The PowerBook, have also gone on to receive great international acclaim. Her latest novel is Lighthousekeeping, heralded as "a brilliant, glittering, piece of work" (The Independent). She lives in London and the Cotswolds.