Just as her 1990s fiction exploited the possibilities suggested by the new physics, Winterson’s first novel of the new millennium, as its name suggests, explores the implications for identity and narrative posed by the new computer technologies.
flaunts its contemporaneousness on every page with chapter headings such as ‘open hard drive’, ‘new document’ and ‘empty trash’. Set simultaneously in cyberspace and ‘meatspace’ — Paris, Capri and London — it takes Winterson’s familiar exploration of multiple realities and personae into virtual reality, mapping the abandonment of the self that cyberspace makes possible. Indeed, the novel’s very structure reflects the non-linear nature of reading hypertext and the mobility and mutability of online identities. Stretching Winterson’s postmodern aesthetic to its limits, and pursuing her metafictional agenda of frame-breaking to a greater extent than previously,
is a book in which the writing of the story
the story. As the narrator tells us throughout the text, ‘I can change the story. I am the story’ (pp. 5, 243). According to the author, the novel represents the end of her first cycle of works (Reynolds and Noakes, 2003, p. 25), a claim with which Keulks concurs in his view of the text:
Overweighed with references to electronic communication, perfor-mative identity, and virtual reality,
eludes even the most assimilative forms of realism that have recently been proposed. It is her last full-fledged, first-phase postmodern novel, one that continues to thwart fixed conceptions of autonomy and agency — the dual crises of the postmodern self.