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207 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2007
The new world – El Dorado, Atlantis, the Gold Coast, Newfoundland, Plymouth Rock, Rapanaui, Utopia, Planet Blue. Chanc’d upon, spied through a glass darkly, drunken stories strapped to a barrel of rum, shipwreck, a Bible Compass, a giant fish led us there, a storm whirled us to this isle.That’s a refrain—or one version of it—that appears several times in The Stone Gods. It’s a lovely bit of prosetry (prose + poetry) and I’m still mulling through it. Variations appear in each of the four parts of the story. (Individual novellas, perhaps?) These four parts are widely separated in time and space, mostly differ in characters (with a few particularly notable exceptions) but directly related in theme. That theme? Well... basically, what she’s getting at is that humans shouldn’t screw up the environment. We’re going to, but we should knock it off. We’ve done it in the past, and we’re going to do it again. Technology isn’t the solution to the problem either. Technology just makes it easier for humanity to move on, virus-like, to another planet to screw up, and once there we will recreate the same conditions that ruined our home the last time around, assuming we don’t manage to screw up the new planet on the way over.
A small boy and a small dog, the dog hairless and pink, tongue lolling, body worn thin like hope, the boy with a bad stomach wound sewn up at his home or his hole, subcutaneous fat pushed on the outside like a roll of tripe. He had the dog on a lead and he was still managing to be a boy with a dog and the dog was still managing to be a dog with a boy because not even a bomb gets to wipe out everything.Youch. You can see them there, can’t you? Where most authors would be fine describing the scene, Winterson gives you that characterization, "still managing to be a boy with a dog..." which turns the horror into something touching—and then all the more horrible for it. It's a gorgeous little bit of work, and there are many more like it in this book. The section describing the planets that had been discovered reads like something Carl Sagan would have wept over. She brings to life villagers in a way that anthropologists seem to think they do with their dry, narcissistic studies, but in fact they completely fail. Ten words from Winterson are worth a dozen academic culture studies.
“Read it. Leave it for someone else to find. The pages are loose—it can be written again.”