Love and lost, book review: Gut symmetries, by Jeanette Winterson


Disclaimer: I love Jeanette Winterson’s writing. I’ve loved every single book I’ve read by her and want to read it all. (Which I would have already done if my library  (that is the public one next to my place, I’ve decided a long time ago that it is just an extension of my own bookcases, and can get very territorial about this) so if the library had more of her books. In any case, I’ve given up waiting for them to arrive and bought “Gut symmetries”.

It is about a young woman, a physicist, who falls in love with another physicist, elder and married. It is about love, and despair, and the loss of love, as we move between those two characters and the physicist wife. It is so well written it sounds sometimes more like a long poem, it manages to link love and quantum physics, it is, simply, one of the best books about love I’ve read in the last years.

Quotes:  (because you have to leave Winterson speak for herself, it is breathtaking)

1st sentence (prologue not included): It began on a boat, like The Tempest, like Moby Dick, a finite enclosure of floating space, a model of the world in little.

“I know I am a fool, hoping dirt and glory are both a kind of luminous paint; the humiliations and exaltations that light us up. I see like a bug, everything too large, the pressure of infinity hammering at my head. But how else to live, vertical that I am, pressed down and pressing up simultaneously? I cannot assume you will understand me, It is just as likely that as I invent what I want to say, you will invent what you want to hear. Some story we must have. Stray words on crumpled paper. A weak signal into the outer space of each other. The probability of separate worlds meeting is very small. The lure of it is immense. We send starships. We fall in love.”

“The separateness of our live is a sham. Physics, mathematics, music, painting, my politics, my love for you, my work, the star-dust of my body, the spirit that impels it, clocks diurnal, time perpetual, the roll, rough, tender, swamping, liberating, breathing, moving, thinking nature, human nature and the cosmos are patterned together.”

“He was a man who could never quite learn the lines he had scripted for himself. Even at his most enthusiastic for a role, some part of him could not forget that it was a role. He did not know how to merge himself into one. A little less consciousness, or a little more, might have saved him.”

“They were letting off fireworks down at the waterfront, the sky exploding in grenades of colour. Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you pas the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough.”


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