Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It’s a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in a north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the universe as a cosmic dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It’s also a book about other people’s literature, one that shows how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.
I knew of Jeanette WInterson from Oranges are not the only fruit. That novel was her first and had also been shown on television. There was much discussion at the time as to whether the novel was actually biographical and now having read this autobiography I can say that there were certainly many links to her life in Oranges.
My reason for reading this autobiography was I listened to a podcast on Books Plus on Radio National where Jeanette Winterson was interviewed and it sounded as though it would be an interesting read and indeed it was.
Another to add to my non-fiction Reading Challenge for 2016.