Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter

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Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: Angela Carter's exotic short stories, previously published in four separate volumes, are presented here as a single collection. The tales are prefaced with a revealing introduction by Salman Rushdie, who was a friend of the author.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 462 Date: July 2006
Publisher: Vintage Books
ISBN: 9780099592914

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Burning your Boats brings together Carter's early works and her uncollected short stories, alongside the collections Fireworks, The Bloody Chamber, Black Venus and American Ghosts. Carter's ability to take the everyday and transform it into the fantastic is evident in stories that range from a cautionary tale of a musician in love with his instrument to a lost motorist whose journey ends in nightmarish circumstances in the Snow Pavilion.

I had read The Bloody Chamber years ago and enjoyed Carter's unique take on traditional tales such as Red Riding Hood and Blue Beard, while her joyous retelling of Puss in Boots contains my favourite version of this hoodlum character. So I was pleased to find a similar adult fairy tale approach applied elsewhere in this book. The collection tackles such widely varied subjects as the childhood of the author Edgar Allan Poe, the life of axe murderer Lizzie Borden and the problematic situation of the changeling child from A Midsummer Night's Dream. In these stories Carter's fantastic imagination is often tempered by very down to earth comments, as when the changeling prince from Shakespeare's play remarks on the English summer nothing in my princely, exquisite, peacock-jewelled heredity prepared me for the dank, grey, English midsummer. A midsummer nightmare, I call it. Her stories made me smile as often as they made me shiver.

This is a rich chocolate box of a collection. Dip in and find the gems. But as with a chocolate box, anyone riffling through is likely to find some things more to their taste than others. Carter's tales are darkly humorous, outlandish and weighted with meaning. But sometimes the mix is too rich and this may make you feel queasy. Salman Rushdie comments in his introduction that her work can display too much use of words like 'eldritch', too many men who are rich 'as Croesus', too much porphyry and lapis lazuli to please a certain sort of purist. So this is possibly not a collection to sit down and read from cover to cover in one sitting, but one to keep on the bedside table and to enjoy over time.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag

If you enjoy Burning Your Boats try the author's full length novel Wise Children

Buy Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter at Amazon.com.

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