Tag Archives: Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber, Wise Children, Fireworks (Everyman’s Library Contemporary Classics) by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber Title: The Bloody Chamber, Wise Children, Fireworks
Author: Angela Carter
Publisher: Everyman’s Library Contemporary Classics
ISBN: 978-1101907993
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fairy Tales
Pages: 504
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Well, if you ask me, Angela Carter was a movement in herself. I have read most of her books and there isn’t a single one which I haven’t been enthralled by or thought about its layers, once done with it. Also, might I add that while most people think (and rightly so) that “The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories” is a very raw and grisly take on fairy tales, it is much more than that.  Carter’s stories are underlined or rather soaked in eroticism and subverts their so-called “intended message”. At the same time, they entertain, enthrall and amuse.

It was somewhere in the last year of college that I started reading Carter. As most would, I started with “The Bloody Chamber” and finished it in one sitting through one night. Her sense of fabulism had got me hooked to whatever she had to say. To my mind, that mixed with the feminist tone, enhanced every single word and sentence, lending it the much-needed sense of imagination and force. Perhaps, it was also the age when I first read her that changed me as a person and kept doing so everytime I would go back to her works, as I grew older.

“The Bloody Chamber” is a collection of stories that isn’t an adaptation of fairy tales. They are just revisitations. The world is of Carter’s – where young girls are more aware of themselves sexually and emotionally, where beasts can be suitors, mothers and pets could be saviours and blood flows endlessly. If nudity, sex, violence, necrophilia, and murder upset you easily, then perhaps this collection of stories isn’t for you. You wouldn’t want to see your beloved fairy tale characters (or a semblance to them) being so aware and liberal about who they are and what they stand for.

Now to the next book in this collection: Wise Children. “Wise Children” is perhaps the onyl Carter which I read right now for the first time. I was almost cursing myself for waiting for all this time before reading it. This book isn’t strange as much as it is farcial, humorous and engaging. The signature elements of fabulism, magic realism (hate the word but shall use it) and this entwined with the ongoings of two families, make “Wise Children” for a splendid read. It is theatrical and nostalgic in its scope. The narrative voice of a 75-year-old former song and dance girl, is perfect. The larger than life characters of theatre and film is what Carter captures with such wit and scope, that it is enough to engulf you. Before I forget, the multiple Shakespearean references and plot devices used (since Dora and Nora Chance are Shakespearean actors) only enhance the humour and irony of the book.

“Wise Children” is almost a tribute to the Bard, both in characterization and its plot. The writing is wry, intelligent and fantastically told. Even if you do not get the Shakespearean references, it is quite alright. You will enjoy the book nonetheless.

“Fireworks” was Carter’s first collection of short stories. Published in 1974 (four years prior to The Bloody Chamber), it was subtitled, “Nine Profane Pieces”. I love how Carter doesn’t mean to titilate or scandalize and yet people feel that way when they read her. When all she was doing through her stories, was asserting her identity, womanhood, and the claiming of sex (as it would seem).

This collection of stories have her constant themes – domination and transformation, also the untimely loss of innocence (traces of this would also be seen in The Bloody Chamber and other stories) and entering the dark territory of emotions – mainly lust, and horror of the body and the mind. Carter never shied from exploring themes and pushing the envelope so to say. To my mind, she was one of the foremost women writers who captured the mind of a woman and merged it with the surreal and fantastical, almost leading the way for other writers.

The stories of “Fireworks” are all about the darkness within and somehow Carter’s writing makes it playful, non-linear and intriguing. I often found myself yet again wanting to be a part of the worlds she creates.

Angela Carter’s writing has perpetually been fascinating, not treating gender as anything but a social construct and love mixed with a lot of comedy. Her characters are undecided,   forever changing their minds, and strangely know what they want. The richness of her imagination was always evident in what she wrote and all I can say is read more of her. Her essays, short stories, novels and journalistic pieces. Read them all. She is a treasure worth admiring.

365 Short Stories: Day 2: The Snow Child by Angela Carter


Today’s story was “The Snow Child” by Angela Carter. Taken from the collection “The Bloody Chamber and Other stories”, this is a retelling of “Snow White” and explores aspects of male power, desire and horror.

I cannot begin to tell you how deeply disturbed I was on reading it, but the craft of Ms. Carter is something else. In fewer than 500 words she manages to make you feel the eroticism of the Count, the envy of the Countess and the innocence of the Snow Child which cannot last for long.

There is the element of surprise, shock and horror – all blend in beautifully in today’s story. A must read, if you ask me.

Here is the link to it: https://biblioklept.org/2013/06/21/the-snow-child-angela-carter/

387 Short Stories : Day 63 to Day 67 : Quick Update

5 days of Short Stories. Really short and nice. So here is a quick update of what I read and by whom:

Day 63: Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett. Taken from the Collection: Ship Fever and Other Stories

Day 64: Killing Babies by T.C. Boyle. Taken from the Collection: After the Plague and Other Stories

Day 65: Call My Name by Aimee Bender. Taken from the Collection: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Other Stories

Day 66: The Weather in San Francisco by Richard Brautigan. Taken from the Collection: Revenge of the Lawn: Stories

Day 67: The Snow Child by Angela Carter. Taken from the Collection: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

Apologies for not describing each story, but you must read them. They are real gems. I will get back on track from tomorrow with writing longer reviews of the stories read. Work has been very busy to allow me to do that. From tomorrow, for sure.

There Once Lived A Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbour’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Vanishings and apparitions, nightmares and twists of fate, mysterious ailments and supernatural interventions haunt this book of otherworldly power by Russia’s preeminent contemporary fiction writer, heir to the spellbinding tradition of Gogol and Poe.

Blending the miraculous with the macabre, and leavened by a mischievous gallows humor, these bewitching tales are like nothing being written in Russia – or anywhere else in the world- today.

Twisted, ghostly, and apocalyptic describe these tales, with characters that are on the brink of madness or despair. Most start out like simple, but slightly off folk tales – There once lived a woman whose son hanged himself, There once lived a girl who was killed, then brought back to life, There once lived a girl who found herself in an unknown place, on a cold winter night.

Then suddenly the stories take us out of ordinary existence and into strange, nightmarish worlds, described by the author as “orchards of unusual possibilities.” Some recognizable tropes appear, but the landscape is completely unfamiliar and disconcerting. Instead of a child lost in the woods, we have a father with no children, a husband with no wife. He has no memory of who his family is and yet he keeps searching for them.

There once lived a father who couldn’t find his children. He went everywhere, asked everyone—had his little children come running in here? But whenever people responded with the simplest of questions—“What do they look like?” “What are their names?” “Are they boys or girls?”—he didn’t know how to answer. He simply knew that his children were somewhere, and he kept looking.

What starts out seemingly as a ghost story, There’s Someone in the House, becomes something quite different. Who or what is the woman in the house battling against? A ghost, her daughter or herself?

…Someone is secretly, soundlessly creeping from room to room. That’s how it seems.

The woman doesn’t tell anyone about her poltergeist: It’s still hiding, not knocking, not causing mischief, not setting anything on fire. The refrigerator isn’t hooping around the apartment; the poltergeist isn’t chasing her into a corner. Really there is nothing to complain about.

But something has definitely moved in, some kind of living emptiness, small of stature but energetic and pushy, sneaking and slithering along the floor…

A mother frets over her Thumbelina-sized cabbage patch child. Profound illumination comes to a woman lost in the woods with nothing but matches to light her way. A family quarantines itself when a disfiguring infectious disease ravages their town.

In these realms of the unusual, nothing is ever straightforward or neatly wrapped up; like disturbing dreams from which one awakens, they are not easily explained or forgotten.

There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill her Neighbour’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales; Petrushevskaya, Ludmilla; Penguin Classics; Penguin Group; £9.99