Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"All I Know About Gertrude Stein" by Jeanette Winterson

"All I Know About Gertrude Stein" by Jeanette Winterson  (2011)

I have recently begun to read through The Best British Short Stories 2012.  There are twenty stories in the collection, edited by Nicholas Royle.  I plan to read all the stories in the collection and post on some of them.   (Not posting on a story is not always a sign I did not like it that much, though it might be, it just is a question of time as it takes me just as long to write a post on a short story as it might to read one!)   I will keep a tab of my "fab five" (in no order), just for the fun of it.  I also have two anthologies of best  American short stories and  Best British Short Stories 2011 and I think  I will stage a transatlantic battle.   (So far the UK stories are a good bit better but I am just getting started.)

Top stories (in random order) Reading Life Best of British Short Stories for 2012-
1.  "iAnna" by Will Self
2. "The Heart of Dennis Noble" by Alison Macleod"
3.  "I Arrive First" by  Emma Jane Unsworth
4.  "All I Know About Gertrude Stein" by Jeanette Winterson
5.  "An Appointment with Mr. Hemingway" by Jonathan Trigell (a very good story on which I did not post.)

I have also read and will not be posting on stories by HP Tinker and Robert Shearman.  

I was very happy to see a short story by Jeanette Winterson included in Best British Short Stories 2012.  A quick glance at the author biographies included in the collection reveals she is the most distinguished of the contributors to the anthology.    She is most famous for her first novel,  Oranges Are Not the Only Fruitwhich I posted on sometime ago.   I also read and greatly enjoyed her very creative novel, Powerpoint.  

"All I Know About Gertrude Stein" is a very creatively designed story that draws you in from the start.   It is a story about two women, both on journeys motivated by love.  It starts out with Alice B. Toklas in 1907 who has just arrived in Paris to meet a woman who will become her lifetime love and partner, the famous author,  Gertrude Stein.  The story after the opening paragraph takes us to 2011 and we are on the Eurostar traveling with a woman from London, Louise, also on her way to Paris.  "Louise was traveling alone because she was trying to understand something about love."   Much like the relationship of Alice B. Toklas to Stein, Louise's lover was a much more important person than she was, Louise is defined as the love interest of  a greater in the eyes of the world person.

We learn  good bit about the facts of the life of Toklas and Stein in this wonderful story, it flips back and forth between Louise and them.   Louise's segment is devoted a lot to her reflections on the nature of love.   The thoughts are wonderful and will make you think about your relationships, present, past or hoped for one day.  

Please share your experience with Winterson with us.  

My thanks to Max u for giving me a gift card that allowed me to read and post on this story.

Mel u
The Reading Life


@parridhlantern said...

This is a great collection of tales, with some wonderful treasures.

Mel u said...

Parrish Lantern, at your suggestion I bought the 2011 edition. Thanks for the very good tip

valerie sirr said...

Winterson's 'Oranges...' is semi-autobiographical and I'm curious to read more about the real version of the tyrannical mother character in the recent 'Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?'