Monday 9 January 2012

"Memory is talismanic."

I'm on the home straight with The Poisonwood Bible, so expect a report on that later in the week.  For today, as the publishing date of Stop What You're Doing And Read This! draws ever nearer, I shall tantalise you with another excerpt - this time from Jeanette Winterson.  Today's painting is Carl Larsson's 'Woman Reading'.  [EDIT: Pat, thanks for reminding me that the book is Radio 4's Book of the Week this week!]

"A medium other than the book could not achieve the effect of this book [The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd] nearly so well.  A book lets you follow a writer's mind.  Reading does not move in linear time in the way that a movie or even a radio piece does.  Of course there is a beginning, a middle and an end, but in 'good' books that is irrelevant.  We don't remember the books that have mattered to us by the chronology of their story-telling, but by the impression and effect of the story and of the language used to tell it.  Memory is talismanic.  We hold on to what we need and let the rest go.  Just as in our lives events separated in time sit side by side in memory, so the effect of a book is to let us live nearer to total time than linear time allows."

-- Jeanette Winterson, 'A Bed. A Book. A Mountain.'
Stop What You're Doing And Read This!


  1. If you liked Poisonwood, Simon, please read The Lacuna. I loved, loved, loved it.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Hi Simon!

    I'm finally commenting after stealthily following your blog for a jolly long time :-)

    The quotes from this book are absolutely lovely. They always make me want to curl up with a book and a cup of hot cocoa (although that's not exactly a new feeling :-) ).

    Cheerio and happy reading :-)

  3. Bought this from Amazon last week (publication date 26 Dec) and am savouring it. A real delight. Also just noticed that it is Book of the Week this week on Radio 4. Many thanks for alerting me to this real treat of a book.

  4. Love the painting! This book may end up being one of my first 2012's definitely in the wish list.

  5. Ellen - I can't decide quite what I think of Poisonwood altogether, Ellen, but I don't think I'll be rushing onto another long book just yet... but thanks for the recommendation!

    stockdove - well, I'm thrilled that you have commented! Nice to meet you :) Isn't the book lovely? Any book which makes me excited about other books will always delight me.

    Pat - hurrah! You're very welcome :) I'm looking forward to the Radio 4 programme, thanks for reminding me about it!

    Susan - isn't it lovely? My love of all things Scandinavian might extend to art...

  6. Hope you enjoy the Poisonwood Bible.
    I loved it and reviewed it awhile ago:

    Am reading Diana Athill's memoirs at the moment: Instead of a Letter is very good, and now Stet - all in one big book 'Life Class'. She writes very clearly and is very honest about herself and open about her life - including lots of sex, which is unexpected given it was the thirties and forties - or maybe not, it just wasn't talked about as much!
    Happy New Year Simon.

  7. I loved the Poisonwood Bible! Can't wait to hear what you thought of it. And I've heard good things about the Bean Trees, have you read that?


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