Thursday, June 02, 2016

Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains (1969)

Heroes and Villains. A vague title that sounds like it ought to be a short-story collection, dunnit? Well, its not; it's Carter's fourth novel, and it has the distinction of being her only straight-up science fiction novel. Sure, The Passion of New Eve is science-fiction-ish, but it embraces surrealism to such an extent that the "slipstream" label seems to work better. Whereas this one is just up-and-up sci-fi, although, naturally, with Carter's inimitable touch.
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Ann Quin, Tripticks (1972)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ann Quin, Passages (1969)

It's Quin's third novel. Limping along to the finish line...okay, so this one is about a woman and her lover, who are traveling around the Mediterranean looking for her brother, who may or may not be dead. Well, that's what they're allegedly doing. What they're mainly doing is getting harassed by secret police and having unhealthy (and, in many cases, almost certainly illegal) sex with random strangers. The novel consists of two sections of narration from each of them, the first (mostly--it's sometimes kind of hard to tell) from the woman, freely switching between first- and third-person, and the second from the man in the form of a journal of-sorts, with abstruse annotations running down the left-hand side of the pages. And that's about it. At barely over a hundred pages, this is Quin's shortest novel.
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ann Quin, Three (1966) we have Quin's second novel. It's about a middle-aged couple, Ruth and Leonard. A young woman identified only as S was boarding with them, but she committed suicide by drowning (which, I must sadly note, is what Quin herself did seven years later. Out of all possible suicide methods, why do people choose drowning? It seems like it'd be one of the most unpleasant). The narrative shifts around through Ruth and Leonard's quotidian life, and S's fragmentary recordings and journal entries (the other two also have brief journal-entry sections). They're very abstruse and impressionistic, revealing bits and pieces about her parents and a possible love affair &c.
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Angela Carter, Several Perceptions (1968)

When I see that title, I always think of the Leonard Cohen album Various Positions. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing!
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Monday, May 09, 2016

Angela Carter, The Magic Toyshop (1967)

You know how sometimes you read a subpar book by an author you like and it makes you question whether you actually liked them in the first place? I had that experience reading Shadow Dance. But then I read The Magic Toyshop, and HOLY SHIT what a difference a year makes, 'cause Carter's second novel is such a quantum leap above her first it's barely credible. Crikey!
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Friday, May 06, 2016

Ann Quin, Berg (1964)

Ann Quin was a British author who published four avant-garde-ish novels in the sixties and seventies and then committed suicide at the age of thirty-seven. Boy, THAT'S not a very uplifting story, is it? Well, I suppose if we can find anything to be cheerful about here, it's that those goddamn heroes at Dalkey Archive have reprinted all four of her books, so that, obscure as she is, she's not going to just fade away any time soon. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Dalkey Archive? 'Cause I do. For a long time I just took their existence for granted, but there's no reason to do that--they're a non-profit publisher, and without them there would be a VAST swath of vital but non-commercially-viable literature that would just be wholly unavailable. I mean no disrespect to similar presses like New Directions, but somehow, I'm just constantly finding myself thinking "huh, what's that book, that looks interesting, I should read it, oh look, Dalkey Archive again!" The only inconvenient thing about them is that--whether for practical or philosophical reasons, I don't know--they don't release their stuff as ebooks. Whatever! They're still my favorite publisher! Is it weird to have a favorite publisher? Well, I do.
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