“The trouble with a book is that you never know what’s in it until it’s too late.” Mrs Winterson, adoptive mother of author Jeanette Winterson.
Fascinating. Isn’t that a perfect metaphor for real life? You just don’t know what you will experience or how it will turn out, you just hope for a good resolution and a happy ending.
To add spice, the sympathetic protagonist is you, yourself – and you MUST be sympathetic to your own cause, as you just can’t always get the loyal, supporting cast when you need them.
Of course, she meant that some books have contents distasteful to the reader (political, sexual, whatever…), as does real life. And so they should. If art reflects life, then it has to include some – shall we say – “challenging” stuff.
Many self-published books, in fact, explore quite challenging alternatives to accepted grammar and spelling. And punctuation.
Returning to Mrs Winterson and her breakthrough novel, “Oranges are not the only Fruit” (at last, some oranges), we can also consider that very fruit as another excellent metaphor for life (see, we did get there eventually).
Okay, for some time we have had Forrest Gump‘s metaphor,
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”
but here’s the case for Mrs Winterson’s books…
- Books are less fattening (except Cookery Books)
- Chocolates contain sugar, which sweetens the worst selection
- Chocolate selection disappointment is transitory – books go on for page after page after page…
- When I buy a book for my wife, it’s a gamble as we have different reading tastes, but when I buy chocolates for my wife, I make sure they include only the ones she likes (that’s a public service reminder about the imminence of St. Valentine’s Day)
And the case for oranges?
- Oranges are less fattening than chocolates
- The price extracted for experiencing an orange varies over time
- Oranges are sometimes sour, sometimes sweet, hence a better analogy for the vagaries of life
- You can get orange-flavored chocolates, but you can’t get chocolate-flavored oranges
I used to favor Merlin’s line from the movie, “Excalibur“:
“Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you’ve tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it’s too late. [Enamoured Arthur takes a bite of Guinevere's love-token cake] Too late!“
But I am now a convert to the Wintersonism about books and not just because it’s shorter. After all, I am writing a series of novels and do I know what’s going to happen next? Nah, my characters are purposefully striding off in all kinds of directions. I never realized that my antagonist was so devious! I wonder, where does he get it from?
Incidentally, I just got back from a harrowing two-week trip to a region of the UK with no 3G signal, to be greeted by not one, but TWO notifications of Liebster Blog Award Nominations! More about this next time…
So, are chocolates, books or oranges the best metaphors for life? Additional nominations are welcomed.