Angela Carter

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are you a fan? were you ever a fan? don't hear people talk about her much anymore. do hip college kids still read her? is she still read in the u.k.? i kinda can't believe there isn't a thread for her on ilx. weird. anyway, i was gonna start reading Wise Children. which, i think, was her last novel. search/destroy/classic/dud/etc.

scott seward, Monday, 28 September 2009 01:21 (ten years ago) link

I think I still have the Sadeian Woman somewhere.

tokyo rosemary, Monday, 28 September 2009 01:32 (ten years ago) link

Haven't read word one, but saw her name in the "Praise" section of a book I've been enjoying as one of the praisers, so was thinking maybe it's finally time to read something.

Garnet Memes (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 September 2009 02:32 (ten years ago) link

Have read and really dug THE BLOODY CHAMBER and BLACK VENUS and THE FAIRY TALES OF CHARLES PERRAULT (all short story collections). THe only novel by her I've read was the early SEVERAL PERCEPTIONS, which was quite odd. I remember enjoying it, but not much else.

When two tribes go to war, he always gets picked last (James Morrison), Monday, 28 September 2009 07:42 (ten years ago) link

A neighbor was selling The Bloody Chamber at their annual booksale/fleamarket on Saturday, but I didn't end up buying it. Maybe I will finally read the story of hers in The Penguin Book Of Modern British Short Stories, edited by Malcolm Bradbury.

Garnet Memes (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 September 2009 15:30 (ten years ago) link

I've only read 'Wise Children' but it was a hoot.

l'homme moderne: il forniquait et lisait des journaux (Michael White), Monday, 28 September 2009 15:35 (ten years ago) link

Also only read "Wise Children" which I pretty much loathed to be honest. Can't remember it well enough to be able to justify my dislike beyond just thinking it very woolly and self-indulgent in thought and expression. I seem to remember forming a positive impression of Carter as an individual based on a couple of interviews, but as a writer she just isn't for me.

frankiemachine, Monday, 28 September 2009 17:19 (ten years ago) link

For some reason I have the impression that wise children is an attempt at a chicklit/family-saga via stealth thing. I'm not sure I can justify that: haven't read it, obviously.

thomp, Monday, 28 September 2009 17:55 (ten years ago) link

The Magic Toyshop is a pretty fantastic book. Have meant to read the stuff post-political turn for ages. Said turn is maybe the reason she's less read than you'd think. Maybe.

thomp, Monday, 28 September 2009 17:56 (ten years ago) link

I've only read (and loved) one of her short stories, one of the Bloody Chamber ones. The slipstream/new weird/Vandermeer people all seem to really dig her.

I always associate her with Shirley Jackson (whom I've never read). Does that make sense?

CharlieS, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 03:26 (ten years ago) link

Search: The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman - it's mad I tell you, MAD! As if one of Leonora Carrington's paintings transformed into a novel.

Seconding the S on The Magic Toyshop too.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 03:41 (ten years ago) link

Also, Steve Kilbey to thread. He's acknowledged her as a major influence on his work.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 03:42 (ten years ago) link

The slipstream/new weird/Vandermeer people all seem to really dig her.

not sure this is a recommendation tbh

thomp, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 08:49 (ten years ago) link

Yeah, I'm not sure, either. Should've added a fwiw.

CharlieS, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 08:57 (ten years ago) link

i know joyce carol oates and margaret atwood were huge fans. and lots of other writers, actually.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 11:37 (ten years ago) link

Great, great writer. "Nights at the Circus" is my favorite. There's a massive paperback anthology of all her short stories, which is a good introduction.

Though if you're looking for gritty realism in plain prose, look elsewhere.

Soukesian, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:32 (ten years ago) link

s she still read in the u.k.?

i know lots of people who love her and have recommended her to me, so yes. personally haven't got around to it though, just like the million other authors who are possibly great and i may like but haven't yet read.

Samuel (a hoy hoy), Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:37 (ten years ago) link

"Wise Children" is great, though she wrote it with terminal cancer, and perhaps for that reason, it's not quite as densely imagined as "Circus".

The collected short fiction is "Burning Your Boats". Leonora Carrington's paintings transformed into prose is about right.

Soukesian, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:42 (ten years ago) link

Sarah Waters on Angela Carter in the Guardian Review

Soukesian, Monday, 5 October 2009 15:14 (ten years ago) link

I once took a class where we read both Carter's The Passion of Eve and Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet. Both were pretty good, as I recall, though I think the Carrington was better.

Also read Hero's And Villains which somehow always seems to get left off of lists of post-apocalyptic fiction.

I once literally through a copy of The Blood Chamber across the room. Not sure why, I think I was annoyed by what I perceived to be baroque prose.

dr. johnson (askance johnson), Monday, 5 October 2009 20:02 (ten years ago) link

eight years pass...

The doc on BBC2 makes her sound like she had a mildly interesting life.

She's sold on quite a lot and maybe I'm fighting against that. None of the readings make me want to read her.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 4 August 2018 20:48 (one year ago) link

The Bloody Chamber is a great collection. Search the title story, “The Erl-King”, “Puss-in-Boots” especially.

devops mom (silby), Saturday, 4 August 2018 20:53 (one year ago) link


Suspicious Hiveminds (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 4 August 2018 20:58 (one year ago) link

reading her for the first time ever; bought a used paperback of the Bloody Chamber several years back in Edinburgh. title story is extremely well written and I suspect I'll dig in further when I get done with this one.

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Saturday, 4 August 2018 21:17 (one year ago) link

xyz, I tend to agree -- the programme was quite well made, a good advert for AC, but full if simplification, and very one-sided, one-dimensional -- essentially in this programme she could do no wrong.

If there is a serious critical case for Carter (ie: if we can debate value at all) then there must be one against her too. I'm ambivalent. These programmes can't handle that low level of complexity.

The claim that 'she had left the best till last' is pure convenience and there is no reason it should be true - after all, she was ill while writing her last novel. Personally I sadly found the last novel to be full of her worst features.

I regret feeling this way about her; wish I liked her writing a bit more than I do.

the pinefox, Monday, 6 August 2018 17:52 (one year ago) link

I found the Bloody Chamber rather trite when I read it, but I feel like this was influenced by the fact that "feminist fairy tales" were in no way a novel conceit by the '00s, and it's maybe unfair to judge a book from the '70s on the fact that I was personally tired of its genre. I have always thought about picking up one of her novels to compare with that collection, but not got around to it yet.

emil.y, Monday, 6 August 2018 18:51 (one year ago) link

(Just want to absolutely clarify that I was in no way anti the feminism side of "feminist fairy tales", just that I'd experienced a whole bunch of pop cultural retellings and didn't feel like there was much more that this collection added.)

emil.y, Monday, 6 August 2018 18:53 (one year ago) link

no, I totally get that & sometimes have the same response with exactly that sort of thing - inversions are incredible when they're new and seem played out when you've been engaging the ideas for a while. but the quality of the writing in The Bloody Chamber is, so far, just impossibly high - this may be because it's a genre book and plenty of genre writers put plot & pace above style imo. Whereas this, Christ it's delicious

If there is a serious critical case for Carter (ie: if we can debate value at all) then there must be one against her too.

I get that, although for me its not 100% for or against this or that particular writer. Perry Anderson was (in the two essays on Powell we've been talking about in the other thread) critical of certain aspects of Proust's writing whilst acknowledging the many strengths.

A problem with the programme was that it was too focused on Carter and the British literary scene. Here is someone who actually spent a lot of time in Japanese culture (fine that was covered) and also wrote a book on Sade - so I'm guessing she must have engaged with French theory - and there is a latin America magical realist bent to her which reminds me of Isabel Allende (a writer I haven't read but is curiously attacked by male Latin American writers) but the programme was making too much on things like 'conventional' Anita Brookner beating her to win the booker prize that one year.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 08:19 (one year ago) link

That's exactly my point: there is a case for Carter, and a case against her, simultaneously. Pros and cons. Part of an ambivalent, nuanced or even dialectical view.

I feel that she was an important pioneer; politically bold and on the whole virtuous; someone who maybe took risks and created possibilities. I quite like her openness to genres (perhaps she could have gone further). Her journalism shows her, at least, well-read and knowledgeable. And beyond it all, I have a kind of sentimental attachment to her because of the period - a personal thing.

But I also think one can see problems in the writing. And her interviews as glimpsed on that programme don't give me great confidence that she had thought those through or could account for them very convincingly.

re: Japan, the LRB review of the biography said that her Japanese bf killed himself, didn't it? - if I am remembering correctly, I don't think this was mentioned here. I'm afraid the complexities of her first marriage (whatever they were) were scanted too.

But the Brookner point is another good example - in effect, a cue for an hour-long doc on Brookner saying 'she wasn't just "conventional", you know - Anita was a revolutionary'. I suspect there is a fair case to be made for Brookner.

The programme's claim that not awarding the Booker to NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS was a deliberate snub is embarrassingly, stupidly solipsistic -- you might as well say that many thousands of other novelists were also snubbed. This is very similar to the way people, for a long time, talked about Amis and the Booker - as though he had a right to win it; as though all those other writers didn't exist.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 09:58 (one year ago) link

There was an online article a while back saying 'Virginia Woolf's status is stopping people studying other women writers'. I wasn't that sympathetic, as I love Woolf and as it's clearly not right to blame one woman writer for the people people aren't reading others.

But if you give even a bit of credence to that model of thinking, you might say something similar about Carter -- that her high status, certainly in the academy, maybe elsewhere too, may have occluded a lot of other writing, some of which was better.

But, again, I wouldn't want to fall into a false counter-feminist argument of pitting one woman writer against another (which the Brookner moment on the programme did).

the pinefox, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 10:02 (one year ago) link

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