Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #145: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson


Winterson’s early life is full of material, so it’s no wonder she went on to become a writer. My only wish is that she went about it with more focus. Memoirs, especially ones as personal as this, benefit from less dilly dallying around. Put me, the reader, in the moment. Don’t consistently jar me out of it every other sentence.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? reads like Winterson trying to piece together her life into a picture that makes sense to her and us, her readers, yet taking shortcuts in the process of construction, like someone jamming a puzzle piece into a slot where it doesn’t quite fit, or someone swapping around the stickers on their Rubik’s Cube in order to solve it.

Her thought processes remind me of my own, which is to say they’re the sort where a ton is lost in the translation. To her, I’m sure this memoir is is perfectly coherent and lucid, but to me it’s flighty and meandering. Her thoughts never quite coalesce into the bigger picture she’s working towards; instead, what you get is a series of smaller pictures that don’t quite form a mosaic.

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