It would be very easy for me, if I chose, to pick apart Enchantments with an extremely critical eye - the thematic points are not woven in tightly enoIt would be very easy for me, if I chose, to pick apart Enchantments with an extremely critical eye - the thematic points are not woven in tightly enough; Alyosha is not much of a convincing character; Masha's adult life is not drawn very fully; the detached, philosophical tone Alyosha and Masha used when talking about the revolution didn't come off as well as it could have.
(Never mind that romanticizing books about the Romanovs aren't usually my sort of thing.)
But, with this novel, I don't actually care - it satisfied all my indulgent literary desires, for metafictional books about storytelling, for little, jeweled Angela Carter-like episodes a bit unhinged from history, and, most remarkably, for magical realism in the Russian orthodox tradition. I had fun. It's a very flawed novel, but I enjoyed it very much.
(I also appear to have read a bunch of Kathryn Harrison's other books without putting together that they were by the same author, I am fascinated with the variety in her work.)...more
I can't properly review Angela Carter - her books just seem to reach into my subconscious, grasp hold of me, and refuse to let go. It's always aGods.
I can't properly review Angela Carter - her books just seem to reach into my subconscious, grasp hold of me, and refuse to let go. It's always a strange experience to read others' reviews of her work, which debate symbolism and characterization and political message. All those things are very clear to me when reading, but I feel so little need to comment on them, because the book itself feels so true. This is how the world is; or, more properly, this is how the world is for me. Every other sentence is a great truth that I have just been waiting for Carter to articulate to me. Yes, it is hyper-intellectual, witty metaphor, but we live in metaphors. Our minds are paved, wallpapered, founded upon the texts we take into ourselves. Conscious heteroglossia.
Heroes and Villains has the hazy contours of a dream but, within those contours, the rich detail of memory. It takes place in a sharply divided post-apocalyptic world, but mostly within the mind of the heroine Marianne, a child of the privileged and sequestered Professor class, who runs away and joins the Barbarians. Carter does not shy away from the grittiness of her premise - more even than the vivid, matter-of-fact violence and appreciated her attention to dirt, to unpleasant smells, to the diseases that result from such conditions. The power of the choice between safety and freedom, between order and chaos is given more weight because the freedom/chaos is unromanticized (though, it other ways, it is a deeply romantic, fantastical image - gothic, in the truest sense of the word. I hope Mario Praz would approve).
Like all of Carter's works, it does not benefit from being summarized (the one exception is The Passion of New Eve, because summarizing that one to a naive audience is absolutely hilarious. Try it some time). It is a deeply erotic, and a deeply devastating book. Grief and mental illness run through it like a vein of sulfur. I expect that most survivors of sexual violence will find it triggering, but it also feels very much as though it was written for us survivors, whispering truths into our ears that the outside world will never understand. Inside the wild, bright colored images there is always this hard, brutal truth, like a heartbeat - This is how it is.
I don't know if this is just me. It very well might be....more