Beware of shallowness

James Wood

  • Art & Lies by Jeanette Winterson
    Cape, 224 pp, £14.99, June 1994, ISBN 0 224 03145 7

Each new book by Jeanette Winterson is said to be poorer than its predecessor; she is like a bibliographer’s definition of nostalgia. As her novels become more ghostly, so they give off a stronger vapour of self-promotion. Her last, Written On The Body, announced on its cover that it had ‘fused mathematical exactness and poetic intensity and made language new’. Her latest also bears a Winterson-accented description on its jacket: ‘Art & Lies is a rich book, bawdy and beautiful, shocking because of its beauty ... a dangerous book, banked with ideas forced out of the words themselves, not words for things, but words that are living things with the power to move.’

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