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Customer Review

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful if a bit sentimental, 18 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: The Stone Gods (Hardcover)
If you're thinking about buying this book, you're going to get no help at all in your decision-making from its jacket. This book sports not a single review quotation. Not on the front cover nor on the back cover. Not in support of the blurb on the front flap nor after the biography on the back flap. And not on any of the eight blank pages at the end of the book that make you think there'll be another twist to the story when in fact it's finished (don't you just hate that?).

Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods needs, it seems, no introduction, no recommendation, no testimonial. Jeanette Winterson is Literature, so the newspaper reviewers tell me. They also tell me that this story belongs to that category known as sci-fi. Does it? That's news to me. I don't do sci-fi. If it is sci-fi, it's in the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale rather than Frank Herbert's Dune.

The novel comes in three parts. Three apocalyptic scenarios. The same story; the story of how the human race can bring about its environment's complete destruction, without thinking about it until it's too late. Scary stuff. Depressing stuff too.

There are also three love stories - all rather too sentimental for my taste. Too many long sentences weaving poetically around at 11 at night (the only time this tired mother-of-two gets to read) do me no good at all. But then there are two 'hidden' love stories - the love a tiny baby has for its mother and the love we all have for Earth, our home - which really began to hit some vein of truth.

Although this will not rate as my favourite book of all time, it did make me think. About climate change, about rampant consumerism and where it might lead us. About what it would take to shake the West out of its blind adoration of the great god Economic Growth, and about what might happen if it's already too late. It also got me thinking about extinction. Not just the extinction of the dinosaurs, nor of hundreds of species of plants and animals each day, but my own extinction, and by extension the extinction of the planet. It made me feel what it might be like to know for certain there is no hope. No life after death. No new blue planet to migrate to in silver spaceships when we're done destroying this one.

And the book made me cry.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Dec 2008 14:51:32 GMT
"They also tell me that this story belongs to that category known as sci-fi. Does it? That's news to me. I don't do sci-fi. If it is sci-fi, it's in the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale rather than Frank Herbert's Dune." Yes, it is science fiction, and Margaret Atwood writes science fiction. What do you think science fiction is?

Posted on 29 Jan 2011 22:25:47 GMT
H. Ashford says:
You sound as if you didn't like this book very much - so why did you give it 4*s???

Personally, I love sicence fiction - but I found this book hard going!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2011 07:00:55 GMT
I think sci-fi runs on a continuum from someone like Herbert, who imagines a world completely other, and someone like Atwood who you could be forgiven for thinking is writing about the world as we know it, just slightly different. I'm perfectly wiling to accept this is sci-fi. I was just trying to express my surprise that I find myself reading a sci-fi novel.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2011 07:05:20 GMT
Did I like this book? Yes, I did. It touched me on an emotional level, and it gave me plenty of food for thought. If I wasn't too fond of the long loopy sentences that appeared in parts, I made it clear that this was my problem, and mine alone. It would be presumptuous of me to give something written by a master of the art like Jeanette Winterson anything less than a 4. Most of my review was talking really about the discourse surrounding novel writing, categorisation and publishing - the jacket blurbs and marketing. Raises the question of whether sci-fi can be classed as "Literature" - just as Kate Atkinson's books raise the question of whether crime fiction can be classed as "Literature".

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 04:35:18 BDT
A. Ross says:
Good review. I'm not really sure I understand your distinction between literature and sci-fi or crime. The latter two are genre labels, and genre is just one of many ways one can slice and dice the larger realm of literature.
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Location: Carmine Superiore, Italy

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