Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Greydoll Reads The Women: Angela Carter and Colette

Sleepless nights a month or so back caused me to experiment with short stories as bedtime reading choice. Then too,  I fancied a break from gritty crime and instead to enjoy the company of ... not wolves as such but women.

Spurred on by listening to extracts from a biography of Angela Carter on the radio (The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon) I raided my bookshelves and found a copy of her collection The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - re-imagined and retold fairy tales including Bluebeard, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast and Puss in Boots amongst others. Each is a detailed tale spun from imagination, blood, eroticism, love and identity.  Angela Carter was a writer who loved language so much that her pages spangle and glitter with the relish of it and may not be to your taste if your relish is not equal to Carter's. Verdict: dark and toothy myths from female experience and imagination, rich enough for reading again and again. And if that ain't part of the definition of legend then I don't know what is.

But after this powerful dip into alternatives, I opted for another old favourite from my bookshelf - the French writer  Colette with The Rainy Moon, And Other StoriesThe Rainy Moon, And Other Stories.
This is a collection filled with Colette's sharp observation and description in which, in the main, Colette casts herself as witness to and narrator of stories of love, obsession and relationship all set during the first half of the twentieth century. Her sharp but cool eye is as much a delight as her writing (in this edition translated from the French by Antonia White) and each of these short stories left me with something to think about.

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