At the beginning of this Summer, on a certain day, in a certain bookstore, from a certain shelf, a small, grim-looking book leapt into my hands. And since I'm already in danger of getting too effusive and too maudlin about the ensuing word-page-girl-heart breakneck romance I fell into because of that grim little book, I'll leave it to this photo of the evidence on my nightstand to tell the tale.
Okay, I can't help it and I do have a little more to say.
I didn't know about Angela Carter until that incident with the small, grim book (which turned out to be her most famous collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber.) Already very fond of the medium (because I am, perhaps, a flighty reader), just a glance at the table of contents revealed ten stories clearly alluding to French fairy tales.
My heart beat a little faster.
I found the bibliography of other work, to find novels with names like The Magic Toyshop and Nights at the Circus. Essays and story collections right up the alley that terminates in my front door. At this point, I'm clutching the small, grim book and looking wildly around the bookstore, feeling halfway radiantly happy to have something so stunningly Emily-ish fall right into my hands and also halfway furious and indignant at the world and circumstance and English school and everything else that had conspired to keep such a kindred spirit from me.
To make up for lost time, she's all I've read for months.
I think this would be a good time to mention that even though I am hopelessly in love with Angela Carter's ghost, this does not mean she is for everyone. Where there are wolves and maidens and circuses, there are also...shall we say...unwholesome things, unsavory things, running wild in her forests. These wild, even brutal things won't suit everyone's sensiblity (neither would the gothic, overwrought silliness that weaves in and out of her work.)
From what I gather, she is much more famous in her native England than in the U.S., which might explain why our paths didn't meet before. Even now, months later, I still feel that odd mix of gratitude to have finally found her and grumpy incredulousness that she evaded me all these years. Mostly, I feel grateful, because to find that a writer so taken with the lush, the fanciful, the bizarre, is also whipsmart, funny, and quite earthy is nothing short of amazing. She somehow walked with her head in strange, beautiful clouds, while keeping her feet firmly planted on the ground.
I'll take the beasts and wild things and wayward women and decadent prose and bind it all up in a crimson ribbon and thank my lucky stars that our paths met at last.
I love the company of wolves.
Look out the window and you'll see them.