BOOK REVIEW – ANGELA CARTER – EARLY SHORT STORIES 1962-66 VINTAGE PRESS
A trio of previously uncollected Carter stories, presented in the Burning Your Boats collection.
THE MAN WHO LOVED A DOUBLE BASS tells of a jazz musician who has a deep bond with his instrument, refusing to be separated from it, taking it to hotel rooms with him (separate to the other band members), buying drinks for it, etc. Many joke that he may actually make love to the instrument, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. When a gig the band plays ends in violence and the audience riots, the Bass is destroyed in the fracas. The musician is nowhere to be seen and the rest of the band set out to tell him the bad news, but he has seen it for himself and hanged himself quietly in his hotel room using the strings.
A VERY GREAT LADY AND HER SON AT HOME is about a vain, egotistical woman who bores her son with homely advice and observations on the lines of always picturing people who consider themselves superior to him naked and vulnerable. Her son rebels by telling her that he pictures her that way and immediately leaves home.
A VICTORIAN FABLE (WITH GLOSSARY) is a very Jabberwock like and over-moralistic tale told almost entirely in slang. The story is basically very simple and dark. A brutal man uses, abuses and swindles his way through life, robbing prostitutes and committing other crimes until he is arrested, sent to prison and eventually executed. The glossary explains the many terms and expressions used, and runs to greater length than the story itself, and it shows tremendous research as well as being fun to read trying to guess if you got the right meaning for each term used in the main narrative.
The stories present a promising beginning to Carter’s illustrious career.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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