By Jeanette Winterson
Weight is the retelling of the myth of Atlas, who holds up the world, though it also heavily features Heracules. The last Jeanette Winterson book I read (probably about a year ago) was Sexing the Cherry, and comparatively Weight is an easy and straightforward book. Weight is one of those books that feels like the language is so simple that it cannot be special, though as the story continues it becomes clear the amount of control Winterson has over her language and what felt simple was actually just sparse — it’s all she needs.
My favorite part is towards the end when Atlas becomes friends with Laike, the Russian dog sent into space. It is a tender, absurd moment, because all the other Greek gods have become forgotten and disappeared, but Atlas continues to hold up the earth and learn of people’s troubles.
Another part that struck me was the scene of Atlas, having given the world to Heracules to hold while he does Heracules a favor, walks onto (into?) earth from his place of holding up the entire universe. How he just almost waltzes down from the clouds and then becomes somewhat human sized on earth. Again, the control of language here for the moment to feel natural is amazing.
Of course the story is about weight: the weight of the stories of our lives, of our anxieties and truths and directions and decisions and ultimately about how that weight is both something we must shoulder and can also let go, that those are things that don’t necessarily require carrying.