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Das Powerbook (2000)

von Jeanette Winterson

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1,1881512,621 (3.58)14
The PowerBookis twenty-first century fiction that uses past, present and future as shifting dimensions of a multiple reality. The story is simple. An e-writer called Ali or Alix will write to order anything you like, provided that you are prepared to enter the story as yourself and take the risk of leaving it as someone else. You can be the hero of your own life. You can have freedom just for one night. But there is a price to pay.… (mehr)
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The first few chapters have been amazing. I'm sad to have had to leave the house and leave the book behind. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Last chapters reminiscent of City of the Mind by Penelope Lively. Highly inventive love story traveling through the centuries. ( )
  Overgaard | Feb 18, 2017 |
I'm giving it 2 1/2 stars because it did keep me reading even though I really didn't know what was going on for a lot of the book. Seems like not have a plot is kind of the point but it makes this so so post-modern as to be nearly incomprehensible. Can't really say much about the characters either as it was often not clear who was who; even who was speaking though long unsupported sections of dialog. Lots of short, often interesting and/or compelling snippets, some of which are achingly beautifully written, that don't ever really add up to anything I could call a story. More like a series of vignettes some clearly related to each other and some with more opaque reason for being included. ( )
  WildMaggie | Dec 21, 2015 |
Classic Winterson. Twenty years ago, I would have given it a couple more stars, I suspect. As the narrator divulges near the beginning, it's always about boundaries and desire. Best are the petite tales within the Tale. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
We are our own oral history. A living memoir of time.

Alix writes stories for other people, interacting with them online to construct the story and write them into it. This is how she makes her living. The book was published in 2000, which is problematic from the technological standpoint (Netscape Navigator rears its wooly, archaic head). At the time, people were batshit crazy over the concept of "online life" and its myriad possibilities. Nowadays, of course, it has become the background (or foreground, for some) of most of our lives. So the urgency, the novelty, that pokes through here and there with regard to the Internet, seems overblown. Thankfully, however, I found it easy enough to ignore (some critics have not).

At its heart, this novel is about stories. Of course this attracted me. I found the book on my friend's bookshelf while completing my "depressive-in-residency" program here in the Dirty South (today's my last day). I'd been wanting to read Winterson, and didn't particularly want to start with this book, but I didn't think I could finish Written on the Body (also on her shelf), before I had to leave.

I can't take my body through space and time, but I can send my mind, and use the stories, written and unwritten, to tumble me out in a place not yet existing—my future.

Alix, or Ali, finds herself drawn into one particular story she is writing for a married woman. Woven into this story are many other tiny stories, usually retellings of known myths or legends. Other reviewers have complained about various issues, that there are too many aphoristic bits and pieces of little meaning, or that have been cribbed from elsewhere and/or are trite and overly "romantic." Yeah, well, everything comes from somewhere else and, okay, some of these bits and pieces aren't exactly soaked in insight, but why not just quit your crying and bask in the poetry. For Winterson writes in a poetic way, and I like that. She takes familiar concepts down unfamiliar paths. I think it is a strength of the novel. I also think that for some people who are obsessed with novels and don't read or enjoy poetry much, this is probably a weakness. Fair enough, but let's keep in mind that it's a subjective critique of the book, and try instead to enjoy images like this:

The evening was stretching itself. The day's muscle had begun to relax.

From reading about her other writing, I know that Winterson has her familiar concerns she returns to in her books. These include gender, time, personal history, shifting change, longing. Important things, all of which I am also interested in. So, the book feels like a lot all at once. She has said she tried to do a lot in the book. There is some autobiographical componentry, as well, which I'm not going to talk about here, but that I know of from reading interviews.

The fabric of the book is stretched on love's fragile frame. Some of her aphorisms surrounding love are bleak:

You keep the form and habit of what you have, but gradually you empty it of meaning.

The pain of dying love. One can tell that Winterson knows of what she speaks. And I am really only interested in reading about love if it is from someone who has charted much of the territory herself.

What to say? That the end of love is a haunting. A haunting of dreams. A haunting of silence. Haunted by ghosts it is easy to become a ghost. Life ebbs. The pulse is too faint. Nothing stirs you. Some people approve of this and call it healing. It is not healing. A dead body feels no pain.

In a discussion with her new potential lover, the idea of pain surfaces. Ali wonders if this woman "thinks that pain is the only way I can feel." But it is not stopping her from loving. In her words, "the pain is not feeling, but it has become an instrument of feeling." This idea of pain as an instrument through which to feel intrigues me. It was one of the more compelling concepts to rise up from these pages. How does the pain instrument alter the feelings and what happens if or when the pain fades away. How do the remaining feelings react when the pain leaves, do they alter, do they grow. How sensitive an instrument is it, does it dull the feelings, distort them, enhance them...

Winterson talks a lot in the book about layering. The idea of time and stories stacking up. And maps.

In these wild places I become part of the map, part of the story, adding my version to the versions there. This Talmudic layering of story on story, map on map, multiplies possibilities but also warns me of the weight of accumulation.

So, there is this yearning to experience everything and maybe the way to cheat time is to layer, but then you end up with too much. And then there are other people and their effects on you: "How do you seem to write me to myself? I am a message. You change the meaning. I am a map that you redraw." So then others are redrawing your maps as they are layering and perhaps there is the danger of losing yourself in there, the tension between sharing a life with another and still retaining your own individuality. The sweet-and-sour unrequited taste at solitude's hard candy center.

I like being on my own better than I like anything else, but I can't give up on love. Maybe it's the tension between longing and aloneness that I need. My own funincular railway, holding in balance the two things most likely to destroy me.

She explores the idea of other worlds in parallel with our own. And this can be partly read as the "gee whiz, it's the Internet Age" aspect of the book. I watched a clip where she talks about this. The inventing of oneself online, and the idea that you can be anyone you want with another person because you cannot see them and they can't see you. I wasn't interested in that slant of this concept so much; certainly, anonymity still titillates some, but I think now just as many (or more) of us are looking for authentic online interactions. Wrapped into this concept of other worlds or at least what exists outside our immediate spheres are ideas like this:

All the separations and divisions and blind alleys and impossibilities that seem so central to life are happening at its outer edges.

And the mirror concept: "The world is a mirror of the mind's abundance." The idea that everything in our heads can be found in the world around us, that we don't just need to live in our minds, despite the temptation. Parallel to this is the storytelling Ali orchestrates, where as she writes the story for another, she herself is written into the story. And the stories become mirrors for her life, as her lover's body is a mirror held up to her own.

She returns again later to the time layering...

I wonder, maybe, if time stacks vertically, and there is no past, present, future, only simultaneous layers of reality. We experience our own reality at ground level. At a different level, time would be elsewhere. We would be elsewhere in time.

I am reminded again of some other reviews I read and how surprised I was at how dismissive they were. Then again, this seems like one of those divisive books that people either love or strongly dislike. There is so much here, so many ways to read the text, so much to glean from it. I copied down so much for such a short book.

She talks about "tameness" of love and how the tamer it gets, the farther away it is from real love. "In fierceness, in heat, in longing, in risk, I find something of love's nature." And Ali in reply to her lover: "So when you ask me why I cannot love you more calmly, I answer that to love you calmly is not to love you at all." This reflects her wider view on living life:

I don't want to eke out my life like a resource in short supply. The only selfish life is a timid one. To hold back, to withdraw, to keep the best in reserve, both overvalues the self, and undervalues what the self is.

The other lives, other worlds idea is kind of nebulous to me. Setting aside the "online world" as mentioned earlier, I'm not quite sure what she is getting at, but it makes for some beautiful prose:

This life, the one we know, stands in the sun. It is our daytime and the stars and planets that surround it cannot be seen. The sense of other lives, still our own, its clearer to us in the darkness of night or in our dreams. Sometimes a total eclipse shows us in the day what we cannot usually see for ourselves. As our sun darkens, other brilliances appear. And there is the strange illusion of looking over our shoulder and seeing the sun racing towards us at two thousand miles an hour.

Certainly I understand other lives, still our own, at night in dreams. And how night can make everything feel different, especially late night, how new possibilities open up, our mind yawning to the darkness, sheltered from everyday reality's blinding sun. And how she writes, "These lives of ours that press in on us must be heard." Yes! For while it is so easy to ignore the other worlds, to not stride forward to the outer edges and peer around at what it just outside our narrow view, she is telling us that "what I carry back from those worlds to my world is another chance."

I feel like I am only clawing indistinct marks on the surface of the book. And she gets kind of mired in ambiguity at the end, but then again, what she is meeting head-on is the shape-shifterish nature of everything: love, life, time, gender.

Perhaps this is how it is—life flowing smoothly over memory and history, the past returning or not, depending on the tide. History is a collection of found objects washed up through time. Goods, ideas, personalities, surface toward us, then sink away. Some we hook out, others we ignore, as the pattern changes, so does the meaning. We cannot rely on the facts. Time, which returns everything, changes everything.

And even what strands I pull from this text are representative of my own concerns, merely what I as one single reader choose to "hook out," they are familiar and new lines to write into my own story.

I dipped my hands in the water. Liquid time.
And I thought, 'Go home and write the story again. Keep writing it because one day she will read it.'
You can change the story. You are the story.
( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
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The PowerBookis twenty-first century fiction that uses past, present and future as shifting dimensions of a multiple reality. The story is simple. An e-writer called Ali or Alix will write to order anything you like, provided that you are prepared to enter the story as yourself and take the risk of leaving it as someone else. You can be the hero of your own life. You can have freedom just for one night. But there is a price to pay.

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813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction

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Durchschnitt: (3.58)
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