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The Skeleton's Holiday

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  80 reviews
'Ring for your maid, and when she comes in we'll pounce upon her and tear off her face. I'll wear her face tonight instead of mine.'

These dreamlike, carnivalesque fables by one of the leading lights of the Surrealist movement are masterpieces of invention and Grand Guignol humour.

Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern
Paperback, 48 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin Classics
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  600 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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'Never mind,' I told myself, 'it's only a nightmare.' But then I remembered that I'd never gone to bed that night, and so it couldn't possibly be a nightmare.

Knowing nothing at all about Leonora Carrington’s writing, I came to this with no preconceptions. I found a set of playful and weird folk tales that often made me smile at some strange mental image.

'White Rabbits' is a vivid and bloody piece of horror that makes a perfect opening. The narrator is drawn into the weird world of her opposite
Nabilah Firdaus
Another great author to be explored. A mesh of normality and surrealism, with dreamlike and creepy plot that makes your hair stands at end. Out of seven stories, four stories will definitely stay with me - a secret concealed by a woman who demanded decomposed flesh meat from her neighbour, a story of a filial child who couldnt stand the disgrace brought by his uncle and aunt upon his family, a story of a hyena tearing off a maid’s face and pasted it on its face and lastly, a story of a thin and ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leonora Carrington's The Skeleton's Holiday is one of the books which I have been most looking forward to in the Penguin Moderns series. I read her novel, The Hearing Trumpet, last June, and very much enjoyed its brand of absurdity. The titular story was written as part of a collaborative novel in 1939, and the other stories - 'White Rabbits', 'Uncle Sam Carrington', 'The Debutante', 'The Oval Lady', 'The Seventh Horse', and 'My Flannel Knickers' - have all been translated from their original Fr ...more
Lauren (Cook's Books)
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am very sick and on the good good (tesco cold & flu caps) and this was the weirdest fucking trip you could ever experience
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk, stories
Probably a better painter than a writer at this point of her career, although "The Debutante" was fantastic. ...more
Callum McLaughlin
I'm a big fan of Carrington's surrealist artwork, but it seems surrealist writing simply doesn't work quite as well for me. The first story, White Rabbits, was brilliantly creepy, and The Debutante very striking in its sinister absurdity, but the other 5 stories did nothing for me, sadly, and I don't think they'll stay with me. ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I need to read everything by Leonora Carrington
Miss Bookiverse
This collection contains 7 of Carrington's surrealist short stories. I had never read surrealist literature before and while reading this collection my recurring thought was "OMG, WTF did I just read?" It's like Alice in Wonderland on mind-enhancing drugs: weird, colorful, often brutal, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes melancholy. Anything is possible and sometimes it's hard to follow (or find) the actual storyline. But it's still so much fun because it's so unique and reminded me of twisted fair ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
reads like a fever dream in a good way
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought, short-stories
I always thought myself not much of a surrealist fan, but recently realised it was because I'd only ever been seeing men's surrealist art and that there was a whole world of surrealist women artists whose work felt really different.

I read this book of short stories at 3am when I couldn't sleep and it was the perfect timing, as the stories are nightmarish, confusing and amusing. I particularly loved the hyena/girl life swap of The Debutante, the gothic horror of White Rabbits, and freaky revenge
I admire Leonora Carrington's paintings for their atmosphere, imagination and evocation of fantasy. The very short stories contained in this small volume are similar -- her imagery is captivating and unsettling, and her stories lack internal logic, but are disquieting and memorable. My favourite of these is "The Seventh Horse" -- I don't really understand what the heck is going on in it, but the imagery is very successful. I also admire "White Rabbits" for its extremely unsettling quality. I did ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short stories of the surreal kind. What's not to love? It's like Lovecraft if he didn't drag on. ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew nothing about Carrington’s personal writing style going in, and needless to say the first story knocked me over the head. These absurdist folktales are fascinating and jarring and funny and completely nonsensical in a familiar sensical way. It’s delightful finding the references to other kinds of story structures within, and also to just go along for the ride, because the story will never take you where you think it’s going. And although the writing is incredibly visual, Carrington blurs ...more
Owen Townend
This was a bizarre little collection.

I can't say I always followed or even saw the worth of more than half of these tales but, against all odds, a handful won me over with their fairytale logic and dark whimsy.

I haven't previously read Carrington's work before but, if these tales are in any way a fair representation of her literary oeuvre, I can't say I ever would again. These stories are far too self-involved and borderline nonsensical for the average reader. Then again I do realise that she is
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I veered between liking and loving it. I do have a leaning towards the surreal, absurd or just plain bonkers, so this sort of collection was right up my street.
Kayleigh Cassidy
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magical stories from a magical mind. It was such an entertaining collection of quirky stories satirizing the social world and it's aesthetics . ...more
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was a really nice fast read. Finished it in 30 minutes. Didn't expect the ending in most of the short stories so it was nice and fun! ...more
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This was brilliant. The Oval Lady was my favourite.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's like if a nightmare or dream you had was written down - aptly classed as surreal, very eccentric and just plain weird, with a subtle hint of horror in some stories, and outright horror in others. It's a quick read and an interesting little book to read if you just want to read something quick, e.g. if you are in a reading slump and don't feel like reading an entire novel. ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A magnificent little collection of surrealist stories by a writer better known as a painter (and an amazing one at that!). These fables prove that a good story doesn't necessarily need complex characterization or plot or even rational development of any kind. The tales are almost like her paintings: mysterious, magical, disturbing and utterly unpredictable. ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finished. This is a collection of seven short stories, all with a sci-fi or fantasy basis. I particularly liked 'The Debutante', 'The Seventh Horse' and 'The Skeleton's Holiday'. All the stories were well written and they captured the imagination too. I did enjoy reading all the stories. And, yes, I would say they are worth reading! ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2019: 22
The Skeleton's Holiday
Leonora Carrington
Penguin Modern Classics
"Ring for your maid, and when she comes in we'll pounce upon her and tear off her face. I'll wear her face tonight instead of mine."
Born out of surrealism, these seven short stories by Leonora Carrington are mind boggling.
This is one of the few reads which makes me say that here is imagination at its best for you. A whole new level of creative, indeed.
Speaking as wildly, as freely as a human mind possible could, I am gla
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The skeleton was as happy as a madman whose straitjacket had been taken off. He felt liberated at being able to walk without flesh. The mosquitoes didn’t bite him anymore. He didn’t have to have his hair cut. He was neither hungry nor thirsty, hot nor cold. He was far from the lizard of love. For some time, a German, a professor of chemistry, had been eyeing him, thinking he might convert him into delicious ersatz: dynamite, strawberry jam, garnished sauerkraut. The skeleton knew how to give him ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
First and foremost, I think if you read this small sampling of Carrington’s short stories repeatedly you would get something different each time. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Lucid nightmare fragments, LSD flashbacks, fairytales gone wrong...all apt descriptions. Dark and dreamlike.
On first read, some of the endings seemed rushed or not planned out. But having time to consider the collection as a whole, maybe the author DID plan it that way. Like an abrupt ending to or that one bi
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Confusingly and strangely brilliant. Upon reading the first two short story’s I thought this was just some really stereotypical and clichéd horror story’s written for children. But on the final page of the second story I realised I was overlooking these story’s entirely. In fact this collection is a subtle and brilliant commentary and attack on traditional upper class bourgeoisie culture, and modern society in general. It’s confusing and open to interpretation but I find this is what makes the b ...more
In retrospect this wasn’t the best choice for a quick bedtime read. Was vaguely aware of Carrington’s work as an artist but not her written works. The shorts are filled with memorable, haunting, sometimes nightmarish imagery, but very little in the way of actual structure.

There were two standout stories in this collection; ‘White Rabbits’ and ‘The Debutante’. Both extremely effective at generating a sense of unease, but I couldn’t help but feel they may have packed more of a punch within a more
Contrary Reader
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have now entered the bizarre, bonkers domain that is Carrington’s writing and can never escape its spell. She has a dark, wry way of dealing with those deeper issues and feelings that bind us all- with a surreal, escapist flick of the pen. It has all of the unseen menace of Aickman (where something is unsettling and unusual) but a lot more humour. She really must have been quite the adventurous spirit
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
this was such an interesting collection I picked up while I was in London. I had always been fascinated by Leonora Carrington and her artwork; her stories did not disappoint, acting as short and not-so-sweet pieces that conjured mental images so profound and surreal they felt like dreams. I liked the first few stories the best; the stories near the end didn’t make much sense to me. Perhaps I’ll go back to Carrington again in the future.
Aishika Mitra
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very unique set of stories. It is rightly denoted as surreal. The person who sequenced the stories did it in an amazing way. The first one is fairly normal if you read magical realism but by the last one you have just lost your mind. I will surely check out her paintings after reading this tiny little book.
Lee Peckover
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Opening short 'White Rabbits' is an outstanding piece of surrealism. It's creepy, dark and fascinatingly unique piece of the most macabre nature. 'The Debutante' is worth reading despite being slightly more predictable and abrupt. However, the remaining short stories are hardly worthy of the term, not much happens and without much of the dark beauty and humour of the two strongest stories here. ...more
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Leonora Carrington was an English-born Mexican artist, surrealist painter, and novelist. She lived most of her adult life in Mexico City, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. Carrington was also a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s.

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