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Saints And Strangers These eight inventive, sometimes bizarre, and fairy tale ish stories were like nothing I ve read in a long time Although I m left with mixed feeling overall, there is no doubt that in terms of writing short stories, Angela Carter had in her possession the ability to achieve maximum effect in a minimum amount of space Carter might borrow most of her plots either from history, legend, or folklore, but what she did with the material is indisputably original, so I give her kudos for that There is These eight inventive, sometimes bizarre, and fairy tale ish stories were like nothing I ve read in a long time Although I m left with mixed feeling overall, there is no doubt that in terms of writing short stories, Angela Carter had in her possession the ability to achieve maximum effect in a minimum amount of space Carter might borrow most of her plots either from history, legend, or folklore, but what she did with the material is indisputably original, so I give her kudos for that There is the exploration and psychological states of Puck and the rest of the fairies just before the opening of Shakespeare s play in Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night s Dream American history provides the material for The Fall River Axe Murders which was a sympathetic portrait of the nineteenth century murderess Lizzie Borden, and the The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe was a similarly fictional historical fable Other stories The Kiss , Our Lady of the Massacre and Peter and the Wolf were OK, while The Kitchen Child which I quite liked, sees a cook in an Edwardian country house being suddenly made love to by a mysterious stranger just as she is finishing a lobster souffle My pick of the bunch though was Black Venus , which dealt with Jeanne Duval, the black mistress of the nineteenth century French poet Charles Baudelaire Stuff like this I wouldn t normally read, and I can t see myself going crazy for Carter books after this, but a little change from the norm every now and then can certainly be a good thing Saints and Strangers also published as Black Venus , is an anthology of short fiction Angela Carter takes real people and literary legends most often women who have been mythologized or marginalized and recasts them in a new light In a style that is sensual, cerebral, almost hypnotic, The Fall River Axe Murders portrays the last hours before Lizzie Borden s infamous act the sweltering heat, the weight of flannel and corsets, the clanging of the factory bells, the food reheated and reserved despite the lack of adequate refrigeration, the house full of locked doors that open only into other rooms with other locked doors In Our Lady of the Massacre the no nonsense voice of an eighteenth century prostitute runaway slave questions who is civilized the Indians or the white men Black Venus gives voice to Charles Baudelaire s Creole mistress, Jeanne Duval you could say, not so much that Jeanne did not understand the lapidary, troubled serenity of her lover s poetry but, that it was a perpetual affront to her He recited it to her by the hour and she ached, raged and chafed under it because his eloquence denied her language The Kiss takes the traditional story of Tamburlaine s wife and gives it a new and refreshing ending Sometimes disquieting, sometimes funny, always thought provoking, Angela Carter s stories offer a feminist revision of images that lie deep in the public psyche I could not have read this at a better time I m contentedly becalmed in Guy Davenport s Da Vinci s Bicycle, constantly re reading the Victor Hugo in exile story and marveling at Davenport s dramatically piquant retelling of the record If I were master of a dream of history style I would write General Grant Goes Around the World I love it when books coincide and I loved Angela Carter s gallery of Lizzie Borden The Fall River Axe Murders , Edgar Allan Poe The Cabinet of , and the Ada I could not have read this at a better time I m contentedly becalmed in Guy Davenport s Da Vinci s Bicycle, constantly re reading the Victor Hugo in exile story and marveling at Davenport s dramatically piquant retelling of the record If I were master of a dream of history style I would write General Grant Goes Around the World I love it when books coincide and I loved Angela Carter s gallery of Lizzie Borden The Fall River Axe Murders , Edgar Allan Poe The Cabinet of , and the Adam and Eve of modern alienation, Charles Baudelaire and Jeanne Duval Black Venus Carter and Davenport have magic time piercing eyes, and pungent erotic styles Davenport seems generally homoerotic lots of Puckish fauns with piss burnt drawers and uncontrollable erections Carter ranges everywhere Baudelairan voyeurism and interracial fetishism physically chaste but mentally morbid Romantic idealism the whorled flesh of a feral wolf girl s unconsciously exposed sex Dr Itard and Victor the wolf boy of Aveyron loom behind the professor and ward couple in Davenport s The Death of Picasso and the changeling child from A Midsummer Night s Dream imagined as a glimmering hermaphrodite yogi holding a tree pose behind Titania s force field, provoking desire on all sides yet myself transcendent, the unmoved mover, the still eye of the tempest, exemplary and self sufficient, the beginning and the end HA I have not actually read this book, but one particularly angst filled mid 90 s summer of my adolescence I found myself next to a bonfire after, I believe, a particularly angst filled mid 90 s community production of Little Shop of Horrors Some girl or something was around the party somewhere, and I could only assume at the time that she was french kissing madly with some lucky schmuck who of course was probably getting to touch her boobs Tangent what I would not give to have touched HA I have not actually read this book, but one particularly angst filled mid 90 s summer of my adolescence I found myself next to a bonfire after, I believe, a particularly angst filled mid 90 s community production of Little Shop of Horrors Some girl or something was around the party somewhere, and I could only assume at the time that she was french kissing madly with some lucky schmuck who of course was probably getting to touch her boobs Tangent what I would not give to have touched those boobs Point is, they were dark and dangerous times, and for some reason that I really unironically cannot explain, I found myself next to that bonfire with a copy of this book in my pocket, along with a pencil I have no idea where I d gotten it, but of course that yellowed paperback instantly became a sponge for all the bitterness I could muster I spent an hour or so scribbling horrible poetry in its margins, talking on life, love, nine inch nails lyrics, and metaphors for the value of human life based on touching girls boobs.So I salute you, Saints and Strangers Your undeniable existence as a block of paper with middling amounts of white space in the margins enabled me to vent my boob hungry torment in a therapeutic manner, escaping the consequences of public masturbation or stabbing some unassuming seventh grader in the neck with a sharp No 2 On behalf of that seventh grader, and all the boobs I have touched hell, even those I haven t since that fateful night my thanks The title character of the short story Black Venus is a Creole woman called Jeanne Duval, Charles Baudelaire s mistress and muse.Jeanne Duval is not well known, but Angela Carter did her tales so much justice at least in my opinion As much as I enjoy this book, I am not going to claim it is for everyone because I know some people aren t going to like Ms Carter s story telling and her symbolism, etc.Obviously, Black Venus is my most favorite story among the bunch, I like how it tells the tale The title character of the short story Black Venus is a Creole woman called Jeanne Duval, Charles Baudelaire s mistress and muse.Jeanne Duval is not well known, but Angela Carter did her tales so much justice at least in my opinion As much as I enjoy this book, I am not going to claim it is for everyone because I know some people aren t going to like Ms Carter s story telling and her symbolism, etc.Obviously, Black Venus is my most favorite story among the bunch, I like how it tells the tale of a Creole woman struggling through her harsh life first as a slave, then a lowly actress dancer kept woman in the 19th century Paris and her stormy romance with Charles Baudelaire, a famous infamous poet struggling with money problem, health problem and a share of his own instability This story is clearly only loosely based on historical details, but I think it s good that Ms Carter never sugarcoated the relationship between Duval and Baudelaire, there is no doubt that Duval was Baudelaire s muse and a handful of beautiful, highly seductive poems are based on her, he even referred her as mistress of mistresses and spent 20 years in a on again, off again relationship with her Butas you can imagine, if things can be difficult even between a man and a woman from similar cultural background and society status, then things can definitely be messy and violent, between a moody poet who probably didn t understand or was insensitive about the situation of his Creole s mistress Especially at that time, the poet s relationship with his brown skinned mistress itself had already been considered scandalous What I like the most is how Ms Carter created a story about Baudelaire s Black Venus with such a dreamlike, sensual lyricism and colorful imaginary PS The Kitchen Child and Peter and the Wolf are also my favorite stories Angela Carter s prose is mesmerising an absolute pleasure to read She straddles the dreamworld between myth and reality, and her writing matches her imagination Apart from that, all the eight pieces one cannot call them stories, I think in this slim volume are delightfully unconventional subversive, if you like The title story, written from the POV of Baudelier s mistress, portrays her as a simple girl, out to make a living on the mean streets Whatever persona the poet imposes on her Angela Carter s prose is mesmerising an absolute pleasure to read She straddles the dreamworld between myth and reality, and her writing matches her imagination Apart from that, all the eight pieces one cannot call them stories, I think in this slim volume are delightfully unconventional subversive, if you like The title story, written from the POV of Baudelier s mistress, portrays her as a simple girl, out to make a living on the mean streets Whatever persona the poet imposes on her is his fantasy, a typical male fantasy which objectifies the female for the satisfaction of his desire Similarly, in Our Lady of the Massacre , a victim of Indian captivity provides a captivity narrative significantly different from the conventional ones But I think the gem of the collection is the last story, which delves into the mind of Lizzie Borden It is almost like a script, and the story unfolds like a movie in the reader s mind.If you love the English language, this is the book for you It s always a little bittersweet when the first story in a short story collection ends up being your favourite overall The first story in my edition was The Fall River Axe Murders I know that that differs from the Black Venus edition and I actually wonder how it would ve affected my overall feelings of the collection if the first story had been a different one This first story is Carter s re imagining of Lizzie Borden, and boy, did I love that one It was atmospheric and evocative, gory, y It s always a little bittersweet when the first story in a short story collection ends up being your favourite overall The first story in my edition was The Fall River Axe Murders I know that that differs from the Black Venus edition and I actually wonder how it would ve affected my overall feelings of the collection if the first story had been a different one This first story is Carter s re imagining of Lizzie Borden, and boy, did I love that one It was atmospheric and evocative, gory, yet dreamy and pretty much perfect in my opinion All the other stories in this collection are also based on Carter s interpretation of different historical or fictional figures with a focus on the female characters that are often cast to the sidelines of the narratives they re a part of I love that concept and still do and the themes Angela Carter discusses in this are so valuable and interesting, but I just didn t find the process of actually reading some of these stories very enjoyable Angela Carter has a way of writing that can be quite hard to get into and often feels very jumbled and chaotic to me Plus, her writing is so full of allusions and references that are entirely lost on you if you read these stories without lots of knowledge on whatever they re based on So, yeah, while I loved the first story and enjoyed some of the later ones, such as Peter and the Wolf and The Kitchen Child this was a bit of a mixed bag for me overall In his introduction to Burning Your Boats, the collected stories of Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie says just about everything I would write here if I hadn t read his intro I ve long been an enthusiastic fan of Carter s neo Gothic fairy tale collection The Bloody Chamber and I d browsed through some of her other short stories as well, always finding them fascinating Although I ve heard good things about some of Carter s novels, I ve only actually read one The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hof In his introduction to Burning Your Boats, the collected stories of Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie says just about everything I would write here if I hadn t read his intro I ve long been an enthusiastic fan of Carter s neo Gothic fairy tale collection The Bloody Chamber and I d browsed through some of her other short stories as well, always finding them fascinating Although I ve heard good things about some of Carter s novels, I ve only actually read one The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman and I wasn t much sure what to make of it I guess it was memorablefor my puzzlement rather than anything I enjoyed or garnered from the reading Perhaps, as Rushdie claims, Carter shines brightest in the short form I d even go so far as to say that reading the stories through in groups, they make semi or quasi novels, such are her returning themes, images, sources, and even occasionally associations and turns of phrase.The tales of Black Venus are indeed a worthy follow up to The Bloody Chamber Peter and the Wolf and maybe even the Overture could have been inserted into the previous collection with the feral child werewolf motif explored via the Little Red Riding hood tales of the previous collection , while the Poe and Black Venus stories trod other postmodern fields, constructing fictions behind the lives of the authors of some of Carter s model tales Like the literary fictions, the Lizzie Borden story constructs a pseudo fiction out of a historical character, a portrait, really, of the day and the woman in question I loved the alternating focuses techniques, Carter s trademark flourishes of style and linguistic prowess, and the ever present attention to women s experience and all that that entails Despite the Po Mo techniques and obvious sociopolitical significance of Carter s voice as a woman writer, however, the heart of her tales, for me, lies deeper, in her individual imagination and ability to conjure up tales from whatever materials fairy tales, Gothic, her favorite authors lives, famous murderers, or even Prokofiev s little ditty about a boy not afraid of wolves She s a mistressful writer who mines whatever ore she can from as many sources as she can, transforming them into wholly new forms that always make me marvel A true inspiration, she s one of my favorites Darling Angela,Where have you been all my life This is the short story collection I would have written were I British, white, blonde, and sadly dead Carter is a so called postmodern writer, but with a very traditionally sick way of writing, who takes on fairytales and historical oddities with a candid delicacy Absolutely lovely.Her version of Lizzie Borden and her world is so tactical I was stuck in soot filled New England for a night, hardly able to breath and looking over my shoulder And Darling Angela,Where have you been all my life This is the short story collection I would have written were I British, white, blonde, and sadly dead Carter is a so called postmodern writer, but with a very traditionally sick way of writing, who takes on fairytales and historical oddities with a candid delicacy Absolutely lovely.Her version of Lizzie Borden and her world is so tactical I was stuck in soot filled New England for a night, hardly able to breath and looking over my shoulder And I can smell the desire in Shakespeare s forest.I forced time into my un giving schedule to read this short collection Put it on your reading list Strange selection of stories My favourite was the reimagining of Lizzie Borden and the days leading up to the Axe Murders The other stories were too odd Angela Carter is quite a controversial writer and I m not sure if I liked this as much as I had dearly hoped.


About the Author: Angela Carter

Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother As a teenager she battled anorexia She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter They divorced after twelve years In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in Nothing Sacred 1982 that she learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, Fireworks Nine Profane Pieces 1974 , and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman 1972 She was there at the same time as Roland Barthes, who published his experiences in Empire of Signs 1970.She then explored the United States, Asia, and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son.As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in Shaking a Leg She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen The Company of Wolves 1984 and The Magic Toyshop 1987 She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Wolf s Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders based on the same true story as Peter Jackson s Heavenly Creatures and other works These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts book, Anagrams of Desire 2003.At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Bront s Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane s stepdaughter, Ad le Varens However, only a synopsis survives.Her novel Nights at the Circus won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature.Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer Her obituary published in The Observer said, She was the opposite of parochial Nothing, for her, was outside the pale she wanted to know about everything and everyone, and every place and every word She relished life and language hugely, and reveled in the diverse.


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