Burning your boats: the collected short stories
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Burning your boats: the collected short stories

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,494 ratings  ·  100 reviews
"Baudelaire, Poe, Dream-Shakespeare, Hollywood, panto, fairy tale: Carter wears her influences openly, for she is their deconstructionist, their saboteur." So writes Salman Rushdie in his introduction to this essential dark fantasy collection, the complete stories (1962-1993) of a master of perfervid prose, dark eroticism, northern Gothic exuberance (think Isak Dinesen), a...more
Published April 1st 1996 by Henry Holt (first published 1995)
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an ex-lover gave me the gift of angela carter, and when she did, she confessed that every time she opened her copy of "burning your boats" that she found some new story she had not read before. shortly after that, i got my own copy of the collection. i've had it for several years, travelled with it, kept it close to my beds and my toilets, and the same seems true for me. i am forever falling in love with this book, forever reading tales of werewolves and purple-madam-puppets and tigers outloud i...more
This is a complete collection of Carter’s excellent short from her sadly short career. Her work takes stock imagery of our imagination (legends and historical figures) and plunges it into her surreal and gothic imagination and re-imagines, demythologizes, or makes it utterly unrecognizable. Resembling the work of Borges, Dineson, Brothers Grimm, Burroughs, Hoffman, and Poe but still really being unique and in her own voice. Highlights include “Loves of Lady Purple”, “The Tiger Bride”, “Fall Rive...more
Angela Carter was indeed the master of the short story during her short life, and I wished that I had read her stories earlier in my writing career for there is much to learn in her approach to the craft. In this collected work that compiles all of her short writing over a 30-year period, we are introduced to a variety of styles, subjects, arrangements, voices and situations that led me to crown her the "magician of the short story."

Gothic is the overaching mood of her stories, but that is the o...more
I really should have put a review on each of the collections in this omnibus separately. But, in my eagerness, I neglected to do so and now am writing one for the omnibus as a whole, since I can't help but see them in relation to each other.

I love how the stories are arranged in more or less chronological order. It really allows one to see how Carter's style improved and evolved over time. The first collection, Fireworks, is by far the weakest of the four and that is in part due to Carter strugg...more
Sep 18, 2008 Ollie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dreamers, jungians, fairy tales lovers
Reading a short story by Angela Carter is the equivalent of visiting a friend who has travelled the world and now lives by herself in an apartment filled with cats, trinkets and incense. Some days, as you sit in this friend's living room, waiting for her to brew some exotic tea, the scent of burning incense lulls you into a reverie, the way in which the sunlight hits the smoke gives her living room a mysterious feel. At other times, your friend makes the mistake of lighting too many incense stic...more
Christopher Stevenson
If she were alive today, they would say, "Bad woman! Bad!" because of her lack of compromise on textual aesthetics. When she was alive, they said, "Bad woman! Bad!" because aesthetics of her characters. You can't just like Angela Carter. You can't say, "Oh! this was a good book..." You have say, "Even though I oppose the idea of marriage, I would wed this collection."
Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Why am I only discovering Angela Carter now? Life so sucks.
Orna Ross
The world of an Angela Carter short story is a world at once fantastic and familiar. Tigers, werewolves and other beasts stalk through; Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood and Puss-in-Boots perform new, startling acts. Hollywood, pantomime, the fairground, Shakespearean comedy all lend their forms to have them smashed up and put back together as something quite different.

But through it all the feeling of familiarity is there, not because we have heard the tale or seen the show before, but because it is...more
Well I enjoyed it, but as I hadn't realized that this book incorporated anthologies I'd already read, it wasn't the glittering treasure trove I'd hoped for.

The absolutely smashing introduction by Salman Rushdie far outstrips some of the stories in this book. Heresy, I know.

For starters, The Bloody Chamber keeps coming out on top as The One, with Fireworks as a very close second, so nothing elated me as much as these sets of stories did.

And then there were stories that just plain missed the mark...more
Lisa M.
I first encountered Carter in an English class, where I was required to use a school of literary analysis to analyze one of three given texts (I choose Carter's "The Tiger's Bride.") I selected feminism (although I almost chose deconstruction!) and found that this story changed my personal life and how I view sex and my sexual relationships. So, I had to buy the book. This review will pertain primarily to "The Bloody Chamber" section of this book, which contains her collected fairy-tales, one of...more
Angela Carter is a phenomenal stylist, of this there can be no doubt. I truly enjoy her juxtaposition of the beautiful and the grotesque, often depicted in single sentences, so that one doesn't quite know whether to be smitten or disgusted. Many of her tales possess a sort of profound, gothic heaviness that occasionally appeals very much to my sensibilities.

It has to be said though that quite a few of the stories in this collection, especially some of the early ones, feel like writing exercises...more
More people need to know about Angela Carter. There are several reasons for this- she did dark and sexual fairy tales before they were cool and better than anyone else has, she wrote a nonfiction coherant analysis of the Marquis de Sade’s writing in relation to feminism that wasn’t just throwing up her hands and giving up, she blurred the lines of magical realism in a manner comparable to Borges- but an incentive I’d like to add is that she’s one of the best writers of gothic short stories I’ve...more
If Cory Bernardi (an unfortunate Australian politician who made an even more unfortunate comment about Gay Marriage and bestiality) ever read this book his head would explode. I am sure (well more hopeful, but doubtful) that he is intelligent enough to see the metaphors, but it would it would make Q&A more interesting. The amount of tigers and wolves sinking their teeth into the virgins delicate flesh would make you very drunk in a drinking game.

But that doesn't stop me from wanting look up...more
Juli Rahel
Short story collections can be hit and miss. Is there a unifying theme or idea, such as in The Bloody Chamber and other Stories in which Carter adapts fairy tales, or is simply a random collection? What happens when you love one story but dislike the next? It makes reviewing collections quite difficult at times. I have become a major Angela Carter fan in the last year and Burning Your Boats has only increased my love.

Rather than being a "genuine" collection, it is a kind of 'biggest hits' compil...more
Gabriel Valjan
Salman Rushdie clues readers in on the fact that Angela Carter was no violet, nor did she do anything halfway in his Introduction to this short-story collection. Angela Carter died from lung cancer in 1992. This collection could have done without the Early Work section – stories written in Angela’s teens -- because I think it may give the reader the wrong impression that Angela Carter “arrived fully-formed”, to use Rushdie’s phrase.

Carter is often presented as a writer who retells fairy tales, a...more
I went ahead and bought the book. I pick it up in-between great books and shitty ones to help me shift my attitude.

I don't recommend reading it as a whole. It is very dense and the little genre's need ample time to simmer.

Angela Carter packs so much life into shorts that I am lifted out of my mind long enough to gain perspective on whatever it is that I am into at the moment.
I need that shift often so I keep this book at my bedside.
Ah! Japan...time to visit.
I used one of Carter's stories in my thesis back in undergrad and I always meant to come back around and read the rest of her works. Taken as a whole, they can be a bit overwhelming but there is no denying, the woman could write a creepy, gothic fairy tale re-visited like no other. I think the stories from The Bloody Chamber were my favorite though; there she was in full-on fairy tale mode and I don't think anyone could retell a fairy tale like Carter.
This is probably, hands down, one of the best collections I have every read. Carter's prose makes Nabokov's look downright clumsy. Her stories are an electric mix of fairy tale and feminist punk rock. No offense to Neil Gaiman, but a mediocre story from this collection could bite the head off the best in any of his collections. I'm just sad that this is it as far as her short fiction goes. On to the novels.
Jesse Bullington
Carter's short stories are peerless, and this little beast houses all of them. Taking it off the shelf and reading a story or two from time to time restores my faith in the world and in writing. All hyperbole aside, Carter is one of the most brilliant authors of this or any other age.
This book was a different kind of read for me. Kind of" fairytale-ish." I really enjoyed those stories that I read and found myself pondering each tale. I believe that, for me, pondering books is a good thing. Probably would have given it a five had I read all the tales.
Sometimes her stories become too confusing and/or philosophical and i did eventually tire of EVERY SINGLE character having sex with EVERTHING SINGLE thing in the universe, including fruit :) But i still LOVE this book!
I feel like Angela Carter's stories are a bit like really rich chocolate truffles. One or two at a time are wonderful but eating thirty in a row will just make you sick. I made the mistake of reading straight through these stories and I just got sick of them by the end. Some of them were good, others not really at all. And some I'm not sure should really be qualified as stories since they seemed to be more thoughts or essays. There was also a lot of sex which got to be ridiculous (with people, w...more
Dec 09, 2008 Ciara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: werepeople, folklore enthusiasts, people with good attention spans
Shelves: read-in-2008
i was first introduced to angela carter in college, when we did a writing exercise contrasting her verbose prose against the clipped, controlled style of lorrie moore (another author i like a lot). after reading carter's novella the bloody chamber (included in this collection) for the exercise, i decided to seek out more of her writing. this is a collection of her short stories & novellas, which are mostly perverse & feminist-minded updates of classic fairy tales. "the bloody chamber" wa...more
Okay, so first a disclaimer. Angela Carter makes me feel a little uncomfortable and she's okay with that. I'm okay with it too, because she is a good writer, and because she does not shy away from disconcerting topics and strong, often anti-typical female characters.
Burning Your Boats is a collection of all of her short stories. Topics covered include incest, murder, Edgar Allan Poe, Lizzie Borden, Vampires (not in a "Twilight-y" way), Wolves, Japan, and Puppets. But the reason I started reading...more
Aaron Jansen
I didn't notice until I was almost finished, but this book has a cool symmetry in its organization. Burning Your Boats opens with three diverse, previously uncollected pieces and closes with three more. Between these bookends, which serve as a sort of "before and after" portrait of Carter as a writer, are her four collections.


The first story is unremarkable and unrepresentative. The second is prototypical: the dreamlike strangeness that pervades her work is present, as is her signature...more
Anuar Kassim
This book is kind of dark for me. Nevertheless, I still find this collection of short stories by the late Angela Carter, fascinating. As a first time reader of her book, I initially find the subjects covered in these stories were somewhat bewildering and difficult to fathom. Her outright openness on the subject of sexuality, mysticism, fantasies, folklore, etc, can be overwhelming at first. Her style of writing soon grows on you though. Her play on well known tales from the past told in a new wa...more
Dec 27, 2007 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dreamers with a morbid bent
If I had only one word to describe Angela Carter, I think I might go with "audacious". One lonely adjective, however, never satisfied Carter or me.

Carter's imagination is dark, elemental and disturbing, and it wends its way through a rich intellectual landscape. I happen to share Carter's interests in certain motifs, themes and tropes -- fairy tales, folklore, the ocean and forest in myth, and others -- and the rich variety of topics, settings and structures in the collection was engaging.

Fairy-tales with a twist: let's show the sexuality of the female characters! Let's make the young girls' cheeks burn! Let's see how fairy-tales translate into situations that might as well have been real.
Darran Mclaughlin
Angela Carter is a wonderful writer, but the short story form is not her forte. There are some good stories in this volume, but there are rather more meandering, pointless, plotless pieces of prose. Many of these non-stories are not unenjoyable to read because the quality of her prose is so fantastic, if occasionaly overripe. Salman Rushdie says in the introduction that he thinks Carter has entered the canon and will be remembered for the Bloody Chamber. I think that's shite. I enjoyed the Infer...more
Elspeth LaMorte
Giving a rating to a collection of short stories is always difficult. I have settled on 4 as an average, though I did not go through and rate each story individually. Many would be four or five stars and some would be three.

Angela Carter is the queen of artistic chaos. Her stories are rampant with feminism and aggressive sexuality and exploration of human darkness. This particular collection features all of her short stories, arranged by publication, and is well worth a slow read. She touches on...more
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From Wikipedia: 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...more
More about Angela Carter...
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories Nights at the Circus The Magic Toyshop Wise Children Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales

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“Those are the voices of my brothers, darling; I love the company of wolves.” 51 likes
“They were connoisseurs of boredom. They savoured the various bouquets of the subtly differentiated boredoms which rose from the long, wasted hours at the dead end of night.” 27 likes
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