Adding to an already astounding body of work that explores the nature of love and desire, Jeanette Winterson (Sexing the Cherry, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion) presents a stunning novel that probes the boundaries of the Internet.
Ali writes stories on email for anyone who wants them. She promises “freedom just for one night,” but she does not do so without a warning: the story might change you. Ask for an epic love story and you will get one, but Ali will be cast in it, too, and the lines between the real and imagined may blur. Plucking characters from history and myth, Winterson journeys through time and stops in London, Paris, and Capri, all the while melding the language of love with that of computers. In The PowerBook she has found a brilliant conceit through which to showcase her increasingly bold voice.
Winterson's latest novel is a treasure chest of metaphors, puzzles and aphorisms. The framing story is about a writer (the narrator) who imagines herself and various cyber-correspondents as figures in tales of love. The book's structure, open to various readings, could be seen as a nod to the interactive books gaining popularity among cyber-aficionados. The electronic correspondence may be interpreted as a dialogueliteral or symbolicbetween the narrator/writer and her married lover. (Problematic love has occupied this rebel lesbian author before, and her point is clear: All love is flawed in its own way.) The narrator repeatedly re-imagines both lover and love affair, but the roles she chooses are always tragic. Some may see the storyteller as a counselor, philosopher or technical writer for the love-worn, holding a prism to the light of love, intending both to shatter it and to reveal its enchantment.