February 28, 2021

Vivian Gornick and Jeanette Winterson: party pooper | Babelia

Suppose the writer Elizabeth Costello he would ask himself what sense the reading makes when one does not expect much from civilization. The answer is very simple: none. And I imagine this would be your starting point, from where you would start talking. That is, away from the cliché of those who turn to books as an escape because their present disappoints them. I would insist that there is nothing less like resignation than an attentive reader. Another thing is Emma Bovary whose dependence ended up annulling her as a person and, of course, as a reader, so talking about her is talking about an addiction, with all the distortions it entails. Not in vain, Madame Bovary was screwing on brochures, not great classics, and not because they came in very easily, but also, but because it was within reach. The addict's choices are usually made based on this criterion which, in addition to being limited, tends to be frustrating. Perhaps, that is why Elizabeth Costello was interested before in other figures such as Molly Bloom. Or at least that sold us JM Coetzee, to invent this author and give voice to a great book that is structured in several conferences in which he talks about realism, the responsibility of poets and our relationship with animals, which at his once it made me think about what this character would say about the memories of Vivian Gornick and Jeanette Winterson. Especially when checking how bad they got along with their mothers in real life, both of Costello's age but poor readers. The funny thing is that they never hid it. In fact in Fierce Attachments, the most talked about anger has to do with this. I mean when Mrs. Gornick asks her daughter what the book she is holding is going to, to which she replies: "It is a comparative story of the concept of love and its evolution in the last three hundred years." He says it absentmindedly and, in his tone, there is a certain bad drool, because he knows that his response will irritate her. The mother, a Bronx Jew who went out of her way for her husband, without relativisms or mondongos, and made her early mourning her only hallmark, how could she remain silent? "That's ridiculous. Love is love. It is the same everywhere and at all times. What should we compare? Discussing it, they broke a door. No less symptomatic is that, from time to time, he would require his daughter to speak to him in Christian, recriminating him to go off the list because “one must never think that he knows everything,” as Olive Kitteridge said in the novel that bears his same name, stealing a shoe from his daughter-in-law and discreetly throwing it in a bin, in a sad Dunkin 'Donuts, mean gesture that made me fall in love with her.

When writing about his affiliate relationship, Vivian Gornick also exposed his miseries. If one wants to be a reliable storyteller, she cannot save herself

Luckily, when writing about their affiliate relationship, Vivian Gornick also exposed her miseries because if one wants to be a reliable narrator, she cannot save herself. He explains it in an interview and, indeed, when reading Fierce Attachments it seems that at all times it was thought in opposition to his mother, even provoking her. That's why it took so much to leave the nest completely. He tried writing and it is not even clear that he succeeded and that, in his presence, there was nothing that Mrs. Gornick did not take as a grievance. Including coffee temperature: it could always be hotter. Which makes me think that in the tongue and in his hands he should have a cork sensibility. There are mothers like that, with little tact, even in spite of themselves.

Others are already more foolish, like the one that adopted Jeanette Winterson, who grew up in a humble neighborhood of Great Britain and under the yoke of a religious fanatic, determined to make her a missionary of an evangelical sect. In sixteen years he did not deign to give him some house keys, nor did he let anyone invite him. Moreover, in his memoirs, Winterson implies that "in the middle of the unhealthy theology, the extravagant depression and the rejection of books, knowledge, and life," his mother did have a lucid moment: she He gave the atomic bomb. It was to see it explode and understand that what moves the world is energy, not mass. Of course, the one that she released among her family was quite devastating and worth as evidence what she released to her daughter, after forcing her to pack for having fallen in love with another woman. Told him: Why be happy when you can be normal? Rhetorical and certainly myopic question, considering that whoever did it believed in the exorcisms, lived with a stir and slept at heart, improvising cakes so as not to have to rub against her husband.

This released Jeanette Winterson her mother after forcing her to pack for falling in love with another woman: "Why be happy when you can be normal?"

Miss W was very different from Mrs. Gornick, that's obvious. The madness separated them, but their allergy to books did not free them from ending up being the grass of writing and that is why they are now in several pages and we can think about them. Relentless women who gave life to other lives and then peek into an abyss. If in one the hecatomb was already an accomplished fact; for the other, she was always around the corner, so while Mrs. Gornick became fond of feeling sorry for herself, like a dead woman in life; Miss W just prayed for the Great Judgment, which in turn refers me to Elizabeth Costello, who has already raised her dust by referring to the "problem of evil." That day came to imply that writing could be potentially very dangerous, so there are things that you better not write or leave out of the picture. It is seen that there were murmurs in the audience, but she did not apologize for her words. At his age, one can afford these things. The point is that now I can imagine her speaking, not of those who write about evil and run the risk of being fascinated with it, but of those who fear it daily and believe that they owe nothing to the books. In Mrs. Gornick that disinterest was tactical because with her the attention of her daughter was disputed, for whom reading was a pleasure against which she could not compete. Hence his commitment to devalue it. Out of pure pride and because it is an act that involves putting oneself in the place of the other, an openness that she never granted herself. For what? Being anti-reader, he behaved as if his destiny was already written: that is what a burden. Even his idea of ​​love had to do with this, judging by the saying he gave his daughter, when he told him about a suitor who had been an alcoholic: “Do you know what the Russians say? If you want to ride a sled, you have to be willing to drag it. ”

Miss W, meanwhile, put more mystery. It behaved as if each text contained a hidden meaning and, its reading, consequences of biblical dimensions. His daughter burned all the books he came to hide under the mattress. From the little pieces that she was able to rescue from the fire, a way of telling was born that now resists being linear and that which Jeanette Winterson began to read in alphabetical order, looking for some logic to cling to, even if the shelves of a library were marked Public in Accrington, England. Towards the O, he lost his way. If whoever is exposed to radioactive forces has long-term sequelae, I identify them in his fiction, since Winterson often does not put the words together. Rather, it explodes them around phrases that hold it and make it a magnet, but that shine with its own light. The same is because it is no longer his mother who guards them. It was his revenge and also his merit: to understand that "a hard life demands hard language and that is poetry." In fact, I cannot conceive of another answer, because in what other way is the end of the world survived if it is not confronting it with its own beauty. "Or at least trying …" Elizabeth Costello would finish, always so grumpy, to remind us that no matter how much genius our libraries accredit, they will never protect us from anything if we let only dust accumulate on their shelves. It is a fact.

Do not miss the next chapter. We will talk about sublimate pornography, burn stews deliberately and grow among poppies and silkworms, by the hand of three great writers: Hilda Hilst, Silvina Ocampo and Marosa di Giorgio.


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