My copy of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is fat at the upper-right-hand corner from all the pages I folded down, the margins penciled with brackets and stars and notes. I read this book as a dialogue with myself - myself as a child, as a mother, as a lover, as a reader and as a writer. As someone who struggles with happiness, with depression, with purpose, with narrative. What is the meaning of happiness? How do we learn about love? What is the purpose of poetry? What is memoir? Big questions, any one of which could serve as a ripe subject for a hefty book. Yet in just 260 pages, Jeannette Winterson pens a road map through some of our largest life questions, and re-frames conventional ideas about the purpose of literature and its many forms - all the while shaping a chilling portrait of an adoptive mother who believed that "'The devil led [her] to the wrong crib,'" and of a ...
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