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Black Venus

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,767 ratings  ·  175 reviews
An alternate cover edition can be found here.

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
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 2nd 1996 by Vintage Classics (first published October 1985)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  1,767 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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mark monday
Angela Carter depicts a range of women (and one fluidly-sexed hermaphrodite) striving to be - or just simply being - fully themselves. Sometimes that self is passionate and loving, other times murderous, animalistic. Sometimes men are important to them, sometimes not so much. These women have little in common with each other, outside of their disinterest in conforming to conventional notions of femininity. Atypical examples of strength. The feminism is not subtext, it's the whole point. But this ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
States of Abjection

“Black Venus” was Angela Carter’s third collection of short stories in 11 years.

During this period, she pursued various writing strategies that built on a foundation of fairy tales.

In this collection, she progressed beyond the fairy tale, and wrote both more realistically and more metaphorically about the different states of exile, oppression, captivity, imprisonment, enslavement, disconnectedness, helplessness, domesticity, nostalgia, enchantment, piousness and solitude i
Steven Godin
These eight inventive, sometimes bizarre, and fairy tale-ish stories were like nothing I've read in a long time. Although I'm left with mixed feeling overall, there is no doubt that in terms of writing short stories, Angela Carter had in her possession the ability to achieve maximum effect in a minimum amount of space. Carter might borrow most of her plots either from history, legend, or folklore, but what she did with the material is indisputably original, so I give her kudos for that.

There is
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 27, 2008 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
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pretty-good, great
The title character of the short story Black Venus is a Creole woman called Jeanne Duval, Charles Baudelaire's mistress and muse.

Jeanne Duval is not well known, but Angela Carter did her tales so much justice (at least in my opinion)!

As much as I enjoy this book, I am not going to claim it is for everyone because I know some people aren't going to like Ms. Carter's story telling and her symbolism, etc.

Obviously, Black Venus is my most favorite story among the bunch, I like how it tells the tale
Nandakishore Mridula
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
It's always a little bittersweet when the first story in a short story collection ends up being your favourite overall. The first story in my edition was "The Fall River Axe Murders" (I know that that differs from the Black Venus edition and I actually wonder how it would’ve affected my overall feelings of the collection if the first story had been a different one). This first story is Carter's re-imagining of Lizzie Borden, and boy, did I love that one! It was atmospheric and evocative, gory, y ...more
Lee Foust
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In his introduction to Burning Your Boats, the collected stories of Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie says just about everything I would write here if I hadn't read his intro. I've long been an enthusiastic fan of Carter's neo-Gothic/fairy tale collection The Bloody Chamber and I'd browsed through some of her other short stories as well, always finding them fascinating. Although I've heard good things about some of Carter's novels, I've only actually read one (The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hof ...more
DeMisty Bellinger
Oct 15, 2007 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
Dec 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There's this pervasive orientalist tone in her stories that bugged me even in stories that were about white people. I think it is safe to call it racist. Most apparent was in the the first story, the namesake Black Venus and the third story, Our Lady of Massacre. The latter is about an enslaved woman of unknown race (probably Black?) who escaped her enslavers to go to the Indians but then got captured back again by the white people.

And honestly what is the point of it all? It feels like a gratu
Fiona MacDonald
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
Strange selection of stories. My favourite was the reimagining of Lizzie Borden and the days leading up to the Axe Murders. The other stories were too odd. Angela Carter is quite a controversial writer and I'm not sure if I liked this as much as I had dearly hoped. ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Angela Carter never disappoints. As one of my favourite novelists, it was so enjoyable to return to her short stories in all of their bittingly dark, lipstick-stained witty narratives. The story of Lizzy Borden has forever fascinated me, and Carter adds such a suffocating heat, an unbearable heaviness and nausea to this gruesome historical incident. Also her tale about Edgar Allen Poe was haunting as the raven crows.
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." ...more
V Mignon
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a parable-ic bent
Shelves: bins
A lovely collection of short stories, all of which are redolent of legend and fairy tales. My only problem: in six months, there is no chance I'll be able to differentiate this slim volume from A.S. Byatt's equally magical (and I use that word advisedly) collection, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice. ...more
No words. My favourite book of 2018.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Well, after reading the first story and then losing the book, only to find it a few weeks later in a coat pocket (that I don't wear very often), I have finally finished.

I've come to the conclusion that I have a mixed relationship with Angela's stories. She writes beautifully but sometimes I find the stylistic tones she employs somewhat jarring. She explores interesting themes and writes fascinating stories but often I find they end abruptly and I am left wondering what she was trying to do. Some
Barbara McEwen
Yeah, quite good in that sometimes gross and sexual way Carter has. I mean that lovingly. The stories are unique and the writing, well, she is very eloquent even while disturbing you.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first time ever reading any of Angela Carter's retellings. Scratch that. Her stories aren't so much "retellings" as dark reimaginings of lives and tales. It took a while to get used to her writing style. She is very lavish with her words. Nonetheless, I was impressed by most of the stories and really want to read more from her.

I rated 'The Fall River Axe Murder' (inspired by the Lizzie Borden children's rhyme), 'The Kiss', 'Black Venus' (a story about Jeanne Duval, the lover of Charle
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All but two of these stories are stellar, my particular favourites being the sideways-prequel to Midsummer Night's Dream and the terrifying, Derridean take on Lizzie Borden, positing that the axe murders were inescapable for everyone involved, because they were iconic and historic even before they occurred. No writer stimulates my mind like Angela Carter does. She is endlessly fascinating, exciting, exhausting and entertaining. ...more
I'm not going to give this a star rating right now as I'm unsure what I think of it. Angela Carter's writing is beautiful but her stories are just really not for me - too much graphic and/or sexual content unfortunately. ...more
Kimberly Lojewski
I am obsessed with Angela Carter. Each of her books are so very different in topic and style. This one runs the gamut from Poe, to Lizzie Borden, to Peter and the Wolf. Narrative form is masterful and so diverse. I am dreading the day that I run through all of her books.
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Angela Carter takes us on another magical, vivid tour through dreamscapes, modern fairy tales, and genuinely powerful women. Her prose is mystical and hypnotic, her characters sharp, well defined and unapologetic. Her stories are a delight to read, even when they're uncomfortable, which they frequently are. Each one is a delicious little morsel; perfectly formed and perfectly satisfying. Great little book. ...more
Brandon Clarke
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
the more i read queen Carter, the more I realise I should re-read Wise Children, because I don't think it deserves 2 stars. Black Venus, the titular short story is by far one of the best short I have ever read, just behind 'The Lady the with The Dog' and 'The Bloody Chamber'. ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I came for the Lizzie Borden story, stayed for all the rest!
Daniel Polansky
I read this book.
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
the writer is witty and gives everything an incredible fairy tale tone. really enjoyed it!!
Helen Hagemann
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2011 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 Lizz
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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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