Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Angela Carter

I was at Borderlands in SF, asking if they had any Ligotti, and the guy asked if i'd read any Angela Carter, and i could tell by his shocked expression when i answered "No" that this was someone i should probably check out. So i got Burning Your Boats, the collected short stories. Bear with me: most of the stories in the book are re-tellings (or re-imaginings) of classic fairy-tales, with hyper-sexual and strong feminist themes added in addition to ordinary adulting-it-up. But here's the nutty part! They're really good! I think Janina put it best as "don't think of them as feminist re-imagined fairy tales, just think of them as stories", and it's true. I have to admit that i skipped one or two of the stories because they were too floaty or abstract for me. Also i don't quite understand the fascination Lizzie Borden holds over some writers. I think my favorite story is probably The Bloody Chamber, in which a young poor girl is married to an enormously wealthy marquis and goes to live with him in his remote castle on the French coastline. It develops that he has killed his previous three wives in grotesque manners, and that the ruby choker he insists our heroine wear presages her decapitation. However, a young blind piano-tuner becomes her lover and delays the fatal incident by just enough time for our heroine's mother to literally gallop to the scene and shoot the marquis dead using her dead husband's old service revolver. The girl and the piano tuner marry, give all the wealth to charity, and with the mother turn the castle into a school for the blind. - What i like about this story is the partnering of extremely adult writing (murder, sex, etc) with an outrageously saccharine plot.


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