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A Card From Angela Carter Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408826909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408826904
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 1.8 x 18.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A small masterpiece; in close-up, a warm and intimate portrait achieved with the most minimal, impressionistic strokes, in a wide-angle what its author calls "a zigzag path through the 80s" (Ahdaf Soueif Guardian, Books of the Year)

[An] exquisite jewel of a book ... Clapp skilfully weaves Carter's pithy correspondence into a moving account of her life ... It is inquiring, irreverent, kind and often quirky [and] will send you scurrying back to the bookshelves to rediscover the work of one of England's brilliant baroque novelists (Sunday Times)

An amazing book. I read it cover to cover and learned so much - you don't need an 800 page biography of someone to paint a really sharp picture of them. In fact, I shall remember this book much more than if I had waded through a tome. It's a gem - adorable. And [it has] a wonderful epitaph (Victoria Hislop)

Colourfully characterised through ribald and sardonically surreal postcards sent to friends from her travels, commenting on her activities and attitudes. There will be other, bigger biographies, but none more evocative than this sampler precisely stitched in literary petit-point (The Times)

Gives a unique insight into one of modern literature's most original and best-loved authors (Evening Standard)

Short and sweet ... captures [Angela Carter's] humour, and describes her obsessions, travels, lefty politics, cats, her husband and son, her works and their author - witty, unpredictable, fierce ... A Card From Angela Carter is a slim book, but big hearted. Unapologetically reverential, it sings with love (The Spectator)

Far more captivating than fiction ... a luminous picture of her friend and correspondent ... an intimate, funny book, sometimes ribald, sometimes fierce, but fascinating all the same (Independent, 10 Best New Biographies)

Book Description

A unique and dazzling portrait of Angela Carter by her friend and literary executor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this slim memoir Susannah Clapp, Angela Carter's friend and literary executor, paints a vivid portrait of the writer, her reminiscences prompted by the postcards Carter sent her during the course of their friendship. Carter comes across as warm, fierce, funny, and high-minded; we frequently hear her voice through fragments of letters and remembered conversations and the reader can re-experience the pleasure that her original addressees must have felt.

Clapp, one of the founders of the London Review of Books, is also a fine and often very funny writer and I thoroughly enjoyed being transported into the world of Carter and her circle for a few hours. By the end, Clapp's description of Carter's memorial service left me in tears. As mentioned by another reviewer this is a very short book, and I can imagine that this would be a disappointment for those expecting something longer. The postcards Clapp describes are reproduced, albeit in black and white. On the basis of this work I'm looking forward to exploring more of Carter's writing (for example her radio plays about Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank, the latter with contributions from Ewan MacColl) and reading Clapp's earlier memoir With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Great happy harmony on 15 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard some of this on Radio 4 and found it interesting enough to buy. I liked the personal memory approach and the format of each postcard. Susannah has taken the postcards that her friend wrote to her during their friendship for her observations which are presented under an appropriate title for each card section.
It is well written.
The problem for me was I was not expecting so slight a book.
I was expecting a memoir type of book and had not realised that it is a very concise book. Whilst nice to hold with a good feel about it there are only about 100 very small pages with the actual cards in black and white so you do not get much sense of what they originally looked like or their time period as a result. I can see that the point is to keep it all brief in keeping with the concept and style idea of the book.
So I think I will have to do a little more actual reading of the work of the author she is talking about and then come back to it. If you already know a lot about Angela Carter then you will probably make a better connection than I did as a lot is assumed and I needed a bit more information in places. However this probably reflects my own current lack of knowledge about the details rather than a failing on the books part. Perhaps part of its purpose is to stimulate you to find out more about Angela Carter and her writing which it has certainly done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pale Jesson on 6 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Finally! Angela Carter was and is one of my favourite novelists. Her short stories and novels are full of fast adventure, larger than life characters, razzle dazzle plots and the sense that anything's possible. And Susannah Clapp, theatre critic and biographer, is one of my other favourite writers, although her style is very different: poised, sly, measured and sharp. What a brilliant combination to bring them together in this short but very deep and ultimately affecting memoir. Clapp and Carter knew each other professionally and as friends, and this tribute is a fleet-footed biographer of Angela Carter, a tribute to the friendship, a smart satire and a glorious work of art in itself: the story of Angela Carter's life is interwoven with images of the very kitsch and funny postcards which she sent Clapp over the years. The images are comical, grotesquely funny, and Clapp has great fun satirising them. However, the underlying seriousness of the work never flags: Angela Carter was a very significant, culturally important and artistically influential genius (and also great fun) and Clapp's fine words express this with tremendous skill and very moving attention. Clapp's analyses of Carter's work is intelligent and makes one want to buy Carter's novels and short stories immediately.

I should add that top marks also go to the publishers for making this book a lovely object to own: the endpapers are actually copies of the designs used on the card for Carter's memorial 20 years ago, and the cover is a joyous affirmation of the beauty of traditional illustration, done by hand, perfect and imperfect - a bit like Carter's greatest characters.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a biography with a difference; it is told through postcards, by a friend. Angela Carter is the grande dame of lush, fantastical stories, and published 15 books of fiction and poetry in her lifetime - but in the 20 years since her death, there has yet to appear an in-depth study of her life and work.

This is not that book, but it's something much more beautiful: a personal tribute to a writer and friend. The book is structured around a series of postcards that Susannah Clapp, a previous editor of the London Review of Books, received throughout her friendship with Angela Carter. Although the actual content of the postcards is sparse, they're used more as a jumping-off point for Clapp to share many anecdotes and insights into Carter's family life, domestic tendencies (or lack of), responses to critics, and stances on feminism and politics.

This is not for those unfamiliar with Carter's work: no timeline or overall view is provided, so it's not useful in providing a sense of her literary work or personal journey as a writer. Readers of Carter's work, though, will love the insights into her personal and professional life, and even the most enthusiastic fan will find something new here. Treading the ground between comfort reading and literature, this book is perfect for those who are short on time but crave brain-food.
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