Date Completed: Early January 2017
Page Length: 544
Rather than begin this review with a quote, I will simply say, read the whole damn thing.
My mum gave me Edmund Gordon’s biography of Angela Carter fro Christmas last year and read it almost non stop until completing it in early January. I was slowed down considerably by the return of my boyfriend (after a month apart!) on Boxing Day and my cousins visiting for New Years. I’ll admit there were times a felt caught in a dizzying love affair between the book and my actual lover.
The reason I’ve taken so long to write this review (or review-like rant) is because I was so overwhelmed by what Gordon has meticulously put together and delivered to the world I needed time to recover. After the initial few pages, which work their way through Angela’s ancestors before finally reaching the woman herself, I was caught. Trapped in the web or spell that is Angela Carter (or, at least, Gordon’s representation of her, which is remarkably balanced and impartial, yet vivid and relatable).
I got a great many things out of this book. Primarily I learnt about the life and habits of a remarkable woman who has had a lasting and important impact on a genre I love and write within. I also learnt a great deal about the publishing industry and the politcal and social landscape of the time. I found the insights offered into Carter’s writing habits, techniques and insecurities to be both informative and encouraging. Since reading this book I have found myself in a phase (hopefully never-ending) of unprecedented creativity and productivity. I don’t who to thank more, Gordon, Carter or my mother.
While this book is an inspiration in itself, it also leads it’s reader down a rabbit hole of recommendations, with a novel, short story or theory text mentioned in almost every paragraph. I have to thank Gordon for reintroducing me to the fiction of Angela Carter as well as her life. Many years ago I bought Burning Your Boats, a collection of all Carter’s short fiction and at the time, I hate to say, I didn’t really get it. Having reread some of it now I am delighted to say, while I may still not ‘get it’ I find it just as evocative and inspiring as the woman who wrote it.
For me this book was an actual gift from my mother, but it is gift from Edmund Gordon to the world. Read this book, read it, read it, read it.