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Julian Meynell's Books

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Winterson's Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson

This is a book about a teenage lesbian who is razed in a fundamentalist christian household.  The book was written in 1984 and it very much smacks of the most tedious parts of 1980s lesbian radicalism.  Despite the fact that the main male character is a man who has been henpecked into non-existence the author is capable of spitting out flabbergasting misandry.  There is also a bit of historical relativism that is very tedious, which is a shame because I like when author's break out into essay components in works of fiction.

Essentially, Winterson does a good job in describing a mother who is a dogmatic, narcissistic, self-righteous christian fundamentalist and how oppressive and awful that is.  Unfortunately, the author while she has a different ideology suffers from the same character flaws.  So the whole thing is blown to hell by that aspect.  I guess that Winterson was 24 when she wrote it and apparently knew everything there was to know about everything.  That tone runs through out and there is a self-congratulatory preface in my edition where the problem has gotten worse.

I don't know.  She is good when attacking and ridiculing the mother, but I really found the daughter to be much the same person as the mother, but with a different sexual orientation that destroys her faith in the end.  I think that a better author than Winterson could do something interesting with that, but I think the Jeanette of the novel is pretty much the same as the Jeanette who is the author and Jeanette Winterson is an author who is blind to her own character flaws.  The whole thing is very much the kind of thing that gave LGBT theory and feminism a bad name during this period.  Wish it wasn't considered a modern classic.