Monday, September 8, 2008

Literary clown car

I hadn't read any Angela Carter until this year. Quite some time ago, I saw Neil Jordan's movie adaptation of A Company of Wolves, and if it's at all faithful it showed that she did some intense imagery. But I might have been put off because her reputation as a feminist intellectual seemed to imply that she was ultra-serious.

Which she was, apparently. (Carter died in 1992.) But she mixes in a lot of comedy with the tragedy and commentary. Earlier this year I read the early novel Heroes and Villains, which had nothing to do with the Beach Boys but did have an interesting post-Apocalyptic setting. (Apparently the English class system would be the same, but different.)

Right now I'm in the middle of Nights at the Circus. It may be fitting that the title mashes up two Marx brothers movies. In a way the book is a series of "can you top this?" tall-tales, of the kind Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce liked to spring. The titular hero is, in fact, a roving American reporter. He joins the circus to cover a Cockney performer who happens to have wings. And is quite the scene-stealer.

There are also some hyper-intelligent chimps, but I haven't been able to place their accents.

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