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A Card From Angela Carter Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012
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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)
Susannah Clapp's A Card from Angela Carter, first published in 2012, has been reissued in a bright, light and utterly charming edition. Framed around the postcards that clap received from Carter during the many years of their friendship (which includes pictures of Charles and Di, armadillos, sun-baked buttocks and trucks shaped as chickens), the book catches its subject on the wing and nails her "gift for a story in a word". A master if precision in her own right, Clapp takes eulogy in a new direction and provides a masterclass in the art of criticism (Frances Wilson New Statesman)
Clapp's text is warm and loyal, funny yet formal, and the view it presents of its subject is of a delightfully bawdy, big-boned magnificence of a woman. This paperback makes a companion piece to Edmund Gordon's thorough new biography, published this autumn (Jenny Turner Guardian 2016-12-24)
A unique and dazzling portrait of Angela Carter by her friend and literary executorSee all Product description
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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.
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.
Just a shame the reproduced postcards are of very poor quality, black-and-white rather than colour.
The publishers should have done a better job on what could be a true gem of a wee book!
Unfortunately, I did not like the image that this friend of hers described. There was too much focus on how she looked and how she spoke and very little about her, as a person, as an individual. I felt disappointed almost, because in my head I had a completely different version of Carter than what was revealed in this book. And that's what I mean by always putting myself in these situations only to regret it later.
It's happened quite a few times now, where I read biographies of individuals whose work I look up to, only to be severely disappointed by the way they are portrayed in their biographies and it changes the way I see them or think about them forever. I hate that.
No matter how much you try, at the end of the day, you will talk or write about a person they way YOU see them and YOU think about them, and that doesn't necessarily stay true to their character, but we'll never know, will we? because they're already dead. So we end up being stuck with your version of events, and it warps all other versions we had.
That's what happened here. I loved Angela Carter, but after reading this book I felt severely underwhelmed by the character she was described as. I had no idea that she had passed away due to cancer, so that was news to me, and it was nice to see how she dealt with her illness and how she really worked on leaving behind work that would help provide for her husband and son. The constant reference to her shape and size and hair and looks and way of speaking took away so much from the person she actually was. This being a very small book makes it even more critical to focus on more important things than the fact she was "a big woman".
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