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Black Venus

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  971 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Black Venus (also published as Saints and Strangers), 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 infamo ...more
Paperback, 121 pages
Published November 7th 1986 by picador (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,762)
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Jun 16, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eric by: Ceridwen Sock Puppet
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nandakishore Varma
Jun 14, 2013 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it
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
Oct 27, 2012 Jm_oriol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ocho historias absorbentes. Resiliencia, carácter, orgullo y obsesión, narrados de forma magistral.
Demisty Bellinger
Oct 15, 2007 Demisty Bellinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone under the sun
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
Nate D
More elegantly conceptual retellings from Angela Carter, though in this, I believe last collection, she's closer to moving out of storytelling and into essay entirely. So the narrative enjoyment was a little more removed, while her prose and design remain forefront.
Nancy Oakes
More when I have time, but for now, I loved this book. I see much more Angela Carter in my near future. While all of the stories are very good, her "Black Venus" just blew me away, along with "The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe," and "The Fall River Axe Murders."
Helen Hagemann
Oct 18, 2013 Helen Hagemann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-books
Black Venus - Revised Myths
by Helen Hagemann

I first read Angela Carter at university, and was struck immediately by the engrossing tales and characters she could evoke; as if this kind of writing was a rebirth of Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, I was reading her novella "Love" about a fatal love triangle in provincial Bohemia. Annabel, one of the main protagonists, was interestingly drawn. A kind of naive and young femme fatale, and as we began to study and critique, I learnt of the doomed female; a
Douglas Robillard
Mar 10, 2008 Douglas Robillard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection was my first exposure to Angela Carter's great stories, back in 1989. Since I'm teaching her this term, I will shortly get reacquainted with her work. My favorite story in this collection is "The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe," a metafictional trip into the mind of Poe. "Black Venus," which deals with Charles Baudelaire's black mistress Jeanne Duval, is also notable. Other stories are riffs on Lizzie Borden ("The Fall River Axe Murders") and Shakespeare ("Overture and Incidental Mus ...more
Feb 16, 2013 Zee rated it really liked it
I don't know why people don't enjoy the stories in this book; they are all strong, oblique narratives that carry startling revelations at the core. Personally I like short stories that give me a little jolt, and Carter is brilliant at slowly undressing her ideas from all the layers of language that she manages to put up around them.

However, I did get the feeling that she was holding back a bit with these stories. Angela Carter at full-speed is a force to be reckoned with. 'Black Venus' is a ver
Apr 15, 2015 Giedre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Angela Carter certainly has way with words - the language she uses a lot of times veers on bawdy, yet it always remains beautiful. I wasn't as captivated by Black Venus as I was by The Bloody Chamber, but it is a great collection of short stories. I usually have a lot trouble with the short story format - it's not my favorite for sure - but Angela Carter's short stories hide whole worlds within them. Black Venus, the title story, The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe and The Fall River Axe Murders, the ...more
Sep 11, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite collection of Angela Carter stories that includes the fantastic The Fall River Axe Murders, which brings the semi-conscious blood-dripping Lizzie Borden back to life and places her, axe in hand, in the decaying environment that will facilitate her meteoric rise as murderess extraordinaire. Angela Carter is one of the authors that made me fall in love with language and how it can be used to create remarkably vibrant exquisite set pieces that delve into our deepest joys and fears. Love ...more
Danielle DeTiberus
Angela Carter is a dark god who simultaneously scares the crap out of me and makes me want to invite her over for tea. The first story, "The Fall River Axe-Murders" about Lizzie Borden and the stifling oppression of women (specifically "old maids") in a puritanical/ patriarchical society will make your head spin in fear and delight!
Jan 31, 2013 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Question: What would happen if a mad scientist were to mix Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates' molecules in a test tube?

Answer: Angela Carter


I've never been able to read anything else she ever wrote. It was too disturbing.
As always, Angela Carter writes amazing prose. It's kaleidoscopic, especially in the titular story, Black Venus, which is written from the point of view of Jeanne Duval, muse of Charles Baudelaire. While I was reading this story, I wished I was around other people so I could've shared and read aloud some of the best paragraphs.

I read the next two stories, and a later one Peter and the Wolf. I will return to this book some time and read the remaining ones, as I almost never read an entire collec
Oct 10, 2014 Aleksandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Przeczytane niemal jednym tchem, opowiadania Angeli Carter mnie autentycznie zachwyciły. To jest autorka, która od lat byłą gdzieś na granicach tego, co chciałam przeczytać, przewijała się na listach polecanych mi powieści, była podpowiadana przez znajomych. Sięgnęłam po jej teksty dopiero teraz - i szczerze żałuję, że nie wcześniej. Jej sposób pisania o ludziach, o erotyzmie i emocjach, metoda, jaką posługuje się przy przetwarzaniu tradycyjnych opowieści i wątków, trafiają dokładnie w moje włas ...more
Melinda Martin-khan
Loved this book. Interesting blend of fables we know (Peter and the Wolf) with a quirky twist, in the form of short stories. Descriptive laden sentences made it a compact read; "But the wood is finite, a closure; you purposely mislay your way in the wood, for the sake of the pleasure of roving, the temporary confusion of direction is in the nature of a holiday from which you will come home refreshed, with your pockets full of nuts, your hands full of wildflowers and the cast feather of a bird in ...more
Apr 12, 2016 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far I have only read Angela Carter's the "Magic Toyshop" and "Saints and Strangers," and I have loved every minute of both of these works. I'm going to start reading the "Bloody Chamber" next.

I enjoyed these new versions of fables and fairy tales. Carter's strange prose often defamiliarizes within "Saints and Strangers" and the twisted, grotesque stories are stimulating in an alienating way. Many of the short stories make you question current realities and the social constructions that we all
V Mignon
Oct 03, 2014 V Mignon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, at-venco
Let it be known that I love Angela Carter.

I love her writing. I love her grotesque sense of humor. I love her gall, her "up-theirs vulgarity," as Margaret Atwood put it. And I have yet to come across a story of Carter's where I don't have to refer to the dictionary at least once. Carter's writing has accrued a reputation, though. She's either a "feminist" writer or a "fairy-tale writer" writer to some. In truth, Carter was a feminist writer, in that she depicted both male and female characters
Jan 21, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I am accustomed to reading short stories a story at a time, but with these I often had to take it a paragraph, even sometimes a sentence, at a time, the prose is so rich, especially in "Overture and Incidental Music," a lush and decadent riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Let's see, what were my favorites...

I was mesmerized by "The Fall River Axe Murders" (Carter makes the August heat palpable, as if it's been stuffed into your mouth, in this "prequel" to the notorious and grisly murders of Liz
Roy Elmer
Saints and Strangers is actual literature, not popular fiction, and, as is the case with most literature, it can be hard work. This book is very, very intelligent, and I would be tempted to do what all literary critics do, and rate it highly because it is obscure, or because I don't understand vast swathes of it, but I won't, I'll be honest. I've given it a three because it's a mixed bag of the sublime and the dull, there are elements of utter obscurity in here that render the point of the tale ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Mackenzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this collection much more interesting than The Bloody Chamber. Speculative retellings of untold histories (or, herstories, as the case may be). Each story's narrator speaks with an idiosyncratic and engaging voice different from the last. As with The Bloody Chamber, Carter's strength in reworking the mythical lies not so much in the narrative "twist" but in the perfumed language and wicked, gothic thrills.
Apr 12, 2016 Geoffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool stuff. There were a few stories ("Our Lady of the Massacre," "The Kitchen Child") that did little for me, but those are the minority. I think my favorite is "Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream," though "Peter and the Wolf" and the title story come close. I love this kind of postmodern historicizing.
Jane McGaughey
I adore Carter's The Bloody Chamber, and Black Venus has been sitting on my book shelf unread for nearly two years, so something had to be done. As with nearly all short stories I read, it was a bit hit-and-miss in terms of holding my interest. I think I would have appreciated the tale of Baudelaire's mistress if I had read more (read: any) Baudelaire before. The different take on "Peter and the Wolf" was fun, and highly reminiscent of "The Company of Wolves", while the set-up to Lizzie Borden's ...more
3,5-4 *

The Fall River Axe Murders: 4,5 *
The Kiss: 3*
Our Lady of the Massacre: 4 *
Peter and the Wolf: 3,5 *
The Cabinet of Edgar Allen Poe: 4*
Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream: 3*
The Kitchen Child: 3*
Black Venus: 3,5*
Oct 15, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I liked this quite as much as The Bloody Chamber; there were a couple of "meh" stories. But the ones that clicked, like The Fall River Axe Murders, The Kitchen Child, and Black Venus, more than made up for the meh.
Jan 15, 2014 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly engrossing compilation of short stories. Angela Carter updates a slew of well known tales -- from Shakespeare to Baudelaire to Edgar Allan Poe -- and provides radically novel insights to them all. She injects them liberally with feminism, awareness of transgender identity, and a hefty dose of the gothic. The collection is a gem for any student of literature, and I'm inspired to go seek out the rest of her works.
Mar 30, 2016 Sammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
I think Carter is at her best writing novels, but these short stories are still pretty grand. Little snippets of postcolonialist feminist academia is perhaps a better description than "story", however.
I can never say enough good things about Angela Carter (who died in 1994 from cancer), her writing is surreal, superb and ALWAYS makes you think. Her short stories almost always take a fairy or folk tale and look at it from a fully new lens. She twists them and makes us look at the pulsating parts, the gooey stuff. All if it is good and all of it makes you think.

This volume is more focused on folktales and American ones at that. This is of note because Carter was English and while she did live
Amy Crawford
Sep 03, 2015 Amy Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Collection of short stories published as Black Venus in the UK (and is more appropriate as the title is a reference to halers Baudelair's lover Jeanne Duval who he refers to in his poetry).
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Goodreads Librari...: New Cover, But Same ISBN 3 16 Sep 28, 2015 09:52AM  
500 Great Books B...: Saints and Strangers - Angela Carter 1 9 Jul 20, 2014 05:55PM  
  • Stories
  • The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits: Stories
  • The World and Other Places: Stories
  • The Beautiful Indifference: Stories
  • Disturbed by Her Song
  • Fancies and Goodnights
  • Little Tales of Misogyny
  • Novelties and Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction
  • A Child Again
  • The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm
  • The Drowned Life
  • Moscow But Dreaming
  • The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World
  • The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque
  • The Complete Short Stories
  • There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
  • The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-six
  • Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Short Stories
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. Th
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