Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oranges are not the only Fruit

In my quest to read along with Yann Martel's bookish suggestions to our Prime Minister, I'm always delighted to find I've read the book under consideration. That's especially true this week, as he's recommended Jeanette Winterson's Oranges are not the only fruit. This was the first Winterson book I read, many years ago, and it is a stunning story of a young woman's shaking loose from her fundamentalist religious upbringing as she realizes she is a lesbian. It is not sensationalist, rather it is about this girl's growth and developing identity and is written so very well. I recommend this one; I might just reread it now!

Yann Martel sends a book every two weeks along with a letter, a mini essay if you will, about the book and the reasons why he's sent it. He considers reading as a way to insert yourself into another's life and learn some empathy for differing viewpoints. I will not point out the obvious benefit this would be for single-minded politicians, I'll just say that I greatly enjoyed his opening paragraph:

The great thing about reading books is that it makes us better than cats. Cats are said to have nine lives. What is that compared to the girl, boy, man, woman who reads books? A book read is a life added to one’s own. So it takes only nine books to make cats look at you with envy.

That sounds like the beginning of a wonderful novel! And I am especially envious about the unappreciative Stephen Harper receiving another present from Yann Martel this week, as it is not only a wonderful book, it is an inscribed copy:

To Stephen Harper
From an English writer
With best wishes
Jeanette Winterson
(Sent to you by a Canadian writer, Yann Martel)

The very idea of receiving specially signed copies of my favourite books is almost enough to make me consider going into politics! (um...not really.)


  1. I read the Winterson novel a while back, but don't remember it well -- too bad, because I know it's quite good! Interesting choice for Martel to send along.

  2. I read her "Lighthouse Keeping" earlier this year and didn't care for it at all. I appreciated that she took risks, but I found her characters' eccentricities way too forced.


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