Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Grove Press)

We're thrilled to present Jeanette Winterson, author of some of Skylight's favorite novels, as she discusses her extraordinary memoir.

This event is free and open to the public, but we will be using signing line "tickets" at this event.  The tickets are free and first come, first served, and give you a guaranteed place in the signing line.  You can pick them up at our register.  We can hold signing line tickets over the phone only with the simultaneous purchase of one or more of Jeanette Winterson's books. Members in Skylight's Friends with Benefits program will get a special ticket for priority in the signing line (members go first) and will also receive 20% off Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, as with all event books each month. 

Jeanette Winterson's novels have established her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally bestselling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life's work to find happiness. It's a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the Universe as Cosmic Dustbin.

It is the story of how a painful past that Jeanette thought she'd written over and repainted rose to haunt her, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. Witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a tough-minded search for belonging--for love, identity, home, and a mother.

"Shattering, brilliant . . . There is a sense at the end of this brave, funny, heartbreaking book that Winterson has somehow reconciled herself to the past. Without her adoptive mother, she wonders what she would be—Normal? Uneducated? Heterosexual?—and she doesn't much fancy the prospect. . . . She might have been happy and normal, but she wouldn't have been Jeanette Winterson. Her childhood was ghastly, as bad as Dickens's stint in the blacking factory, but it was also the crucible for her incendiary talent."—Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times (UK)

"Unconventional, ambitious . . . The experience of reading Why Be Happy is unusually visceral. Winterson confronts her actions, personality quirks, even sexuality, with a kind of violence, as if forcing herself to be honest. . . . The prose is often breathtaking: witty, biblical, chatty, and vigorous all at once."—Emily Stokes, Financial Times

"An extraordinary tragic-comic literary autobiography."—Mark Lawson, The Guardian (Best Book of 2011)

Event date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
90027 Los Angeles
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780802120106
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Grove Press - March 6th, 2012

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802135162
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Grove Press - August 20th, 1997

Winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for best first novel and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best writer under 35, this modern classic has sold 100,000 copies in the United States. The novel chronicles the life of a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an Evangelical household in the dour, industrial Midlands. Her insistence on listening to the truths of her own heart and mind makes for an unforgettable chronicle of an eccentric, moving rite of passage into adulthood.

The Passion Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802135223
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Grove Press - August 7th, 1997

Set during the tumultuous years of the Napoleonic Wars, The Passion intertwines the destinies of two remarkable people: Henri, a simple French soldier, and Villanelle, the daughter of a Venetian boatmen, who has lost her heart to a married noblewoman and who wanders the Western world to retrieve it.

Weight Cover Image
ISBN: 9781841957999
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Canongate Books - October 2006

In ancient Greek mythology, Atlas, a member of the original race of gods called Titans, leads a rebellion against the new deities, the Olympians. With her typical wit and verve, Winterson brings Atlas into the 21st century.

Written on the Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679744474
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Vintage Books USA - February 1st, 1994

The most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman. "At once a love story and a philosophical meditation."--New York Times Book Review

Sexing the Cherry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802135780
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Grove Press - August 10th, 1998

In a fantastic world that is not 17th-century England, a baby is found floating in the Thames. Rescued by the Dog Woman, a murderous gentle giant, the baby soon grows up to discover that the strangest wonders are the ones spun out of his own head. "Fuses history, fairy tale, and metafiction into a fruit . . . of a memorably startling flavor."--New York Times Book Review

Gut Symmetries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679777427
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Vintage - July 28th, 1998

The high-wire artist of the English novel redraws the romantic triangle for the post-Einsteinian universe, a place where gender is as elastic as matter. "Dazzling for its intelligence and inventiveness."--Elle