Here’s the thing about reading a book a day: you get to read a lot of books but when you find one that is brilliant, pure poetry and a ripping story to boot, you cannot savor it and you can’t read it again. Not until late October anyway. And that’s too bad because The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson is brilliant–and beautiful, chilling, wickedly funny and apocalyptic. This is the novel you read after Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It is Buddhist, Sartrean and very very dark. It’s a little tale about us and how we eff’d up the world and how we never learn–and aren’t learning now. It has dinosaurs, messages from far space, Robo-sapiens–the next evolution of intelligent life–John Donne, Easter Island and a corporate wasteland. Step in, you’ll feel right at home.
There is no good way to describe what Winterson’s lucid, twisted mind has wrought. Billie Crusoe lives on the far edge of adventure in a post-World War 3 society that represents the last gasp of a grievously wounded and nearly-dead planet. She has a small farm with fruit trees and animals and a fireplace and a rain barrel. She hasn’t been genetically modified to remain 24, or whatever age she feels is cover-girl perfection for her, and she hasn’t handed her mind over to the machine either, which makes her suspect and eventually prey. Billie works with Spike, the lone Robo-sapiens who is rather spectacular, sagacious and lovable. Corporate scientists from MORE, the corporation that runs what’s left of the West after a nuclear and environmental holocaust, have discovered a Blue Planet that supports the identical abundant life Earth did 65 million years ago. Very large flora and fauna to go with the breathable air, drinkable water, verdant food and treacherous beauty.
But that’s too simple. Just picking up and going to another planet may seem like a wrench but the real scary part is when history repeats itself. Asteroidally speaking, that is. You thought that giant space junk that hit Mexico and wiped out the dinosaurs was an astronomical anomaly? Think again. Humans meddle. Primitive perfection gets blasted into disaster. Everything dies. Even humans. And Robo-sapiens. Or do they? Do we? What if it’s all an endless loop?
Okay, enough spoilers. This is a truly brilliant, poetic, imaginative, comic and horrifying book. Only you already know the story. So read Winterson’s telling of it. Read it twice if you have time. The Stone Gods is worth repeating.
The Stone Gods Jeanette Winterson | Harcourt Books 2007