cover image Sexing the Cherry

Sexing the Cherry

Jeanette Winterson. Atlantic Monthly Press, $19.95 (167pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-350-2

Evoking modern physics and antique metaphysics, Winterson's ambitiously eccentric narrative challenges her readers to rupture the boundaries of conventional perceptions and linear experience of time. Her narrative voices, alternating between a Rabelaisian giantess and her foundling son, collapse at times into one another and the characters plunge vertiginously through time and space. On the one hand reworking fairy tales, and on the other evoking the filth, squalor and exuberant bawdiness of 17th-century England in the throes of civil war, Winterson ( The Passion ) eventually locates her characters in present-day London. Graced with striking similes and poetic cadences, the author's prose is clean and strong, and the disjunctive elements of her narrative are integrated elegantly. But the novel's freakish characters and flights of surreal fancy are insufficient to redeem its overwrought artifice. The work is further limited by its stridently dogmatic feminism, which, contemptuously belittling all men as arrogantly stupid bullies who are vastly women's inferiors in maturity and moral fiber, vitiates its ostensible intent to transcend the narrowness of human perception. (Apr.)