Monday, August 28, 2017

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

...but it wasn't a good living, it was begging with paint on its face...

What is it this young man reminds me of? A piece of music composed for one instrument and played on another.

Have you ever stared stark failure in the face, young man? The trick is, to outstare it.

Another brilliant effort from Angela Carter from 1984.  A plot summary hardly helps:  in 1899 or thereabouts, a young American journalist journeys to London to interview the extraordinary Fevvers, a woman of prodigious physicality who sports two huge wings coming out of her back.  She is the star of an international circus, and the two continue on to Russia for a cosmopolitan tour, and then into Siberia. If that sounds good, it's about 2% of the story.  The depth at which Carter constructs her character, her effortless sparkling prose, her odd theme of feminist empowerment, the sheer Dickensian storytelling-within-storytelling:  she's amazing.

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