Love - Angela Carter i thought Angela was handing me a flute full of bubbly champagne but it turned out to be a glass of spicy vinegar from a jar of pickled peppers & sausages. Angela, you vicious trickster. still, i found the taste to be surprisingly interesting. maybe not refreshing or pleasing to the taste buds... but interesting! i quickly finished the whole glass.

Love - a title steeped in so much sick irony, given the novel's cruel narrative and its wintry themes - is about an insane young lady, her beau, his demented brother, the apartment that all three share, and how lives just go on no matter what. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, Hey! it is set in late 60s London (i presume - i think the city is nameless) within that special milieu that exists on the outskirts of many colleges - an artsy, ambisexual, insular, young, messy milieu. it stars: a charmless young miss who comes from money & paints surreal landscapes over all of her walls and who is clearly both bonkers and toxic (our heroine!); a perfectly nice young man who is pleasing to the eye and who just wants to be happy and who has an arsenal of disarming smiles and who ties up and beats his girlfriend when she irritates him (our hero!); an animalistic brother who has decided to continually live in his school of hard knocks and who does eventually call for an ambulance after he finds a person who has tried to commit suicide - but not until he takes a few cool snaps (our villain?). the plot is pretty much the detailing of the strange, disturbing dance between the three. what is Love and what is it saying about "love"? honestly, nothing that i want to know. i don't believe in its perspective!

if you love Angela Carter as much as i do, you will find much to enjoy in this novel. her language is as brilliant as ever, full of evilly sardonic non sequitors and stylized dialogue and lots of surprising bits of characterization and of course imagery that is surreal, hyperreal, unreal, and grimily realistic. the writing is so offbeat that at first i thought all the characters and scenarios were meant to be postmodern constructs and a series of dream scenes. but nope, this was actually a "contemporary" novel dealing with actual characters and their relationships. shudder! i lived in a world like this for a few years and thank God it was nothing like Love's Inferno.

i suppose i should say what i think this novel is about so that this "review" is actually a review and not a book report. but i don't wanna. i don't believe in Carter's analysis of love and relationships. too bitter, cynical, demeaning, etc. well she did write this when she was 30 or so and i was probably prey to the same feelings at that age. wasn't i? i don't remember; i probably was taking too many drugs at the time, much like the characters in this book. but even if i don't agree with Carter's vision, her phenomenal and thoroughly idiosyncratic skill at constructing berserk narratives & her use of language that is full of nuance and spikiness & her ability to tell stories that read like diabolical fairy tales are all entirely in place. and so Love is quite enjoyable. a perverse kind of enjoyable, but hey i find my enjoyment in many different kinds of places.

look upon Angela Carter:


she's beautiful and she looks like she could kill you just because it may be an interesting thing to do. or not, as she may have some gardening to finish up that is even more interesting. ::sigh:: my kind of gal!

my 80s edition of Love contains an amusing afterward by the author. it's not really even an afterward. it is Angela Carter, many years later, showing a bit of affection towards her younger, cynical self, and imagining the eventual destinies of all the novel's surviving characters. the difference between the two Carters is profound. the author of Love wants to turn the world inside out and is high on her own cracked, brilliant malevolence. the author of the afterword is still cracked and brilliant but has replaced that malevolence with a kind of empathy, a kind of kindess, a clear-eyed and unsentimental wisdom. i want to grow up to be that kind of Angela Carter.

my first review of 2013! hopefully not all of my reviews this year will be as long-winded. but the author really deserves me going on a bit. Happy New Year!