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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2015
yeh good
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on 15 January 2013
I bought this for friends who share my interest in Carter and in exchanging postcards. It fit the bill for Christmas.
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on 9 August 2012
Angela Carter's whimsical imagination expresses itself in the postcards selected by the author of this very slim volume. It's great to have her memories of time shared with A.C.
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!
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on 8 June 2012
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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on 19 April 2012
Such a slight work that you might well feel cheated, even at Amazon's reduced price.
The 'lapidary volume' referred to by other reviewers is actually Susannah Clapp's other memoir of Bruce Chatwin. I certainly wouldn't describe this one as 'lapidary' ... cheap paper and excruciatingly poor picture quality.
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on 6 March 2012
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.

With that vanilla ice cream and hot sauce combo of Carter's heat and Clapp's coolness, this book is a joy and would also make a great gift as it's so dinky, gorgeous and readable. I hugely recommend it but add a note of scolding: why is there no big book of fun, accessible essays on Carter's fiction? Something fans can get their teeth into? Why (as Clapp says) is there no major biography of her work? And why did she never win the Booker prize - or even be nominated?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 February 2012
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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on 15 February 2012
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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on 6 February 2012
Thought I'd get in early with this in view of its R4 serialisation. Why do Cartersians always go on about what she looked like? She seems to me to be the kind of 'feminist' writer, whatever that means (is Atwood one? is Stevie Smith? the idea is absurd) whose constituency is chiefly female. 'I'm so wacky, me!' Give me a girl who hangs with the boys - give me Carol Churchill, give me Germaine. I must give her nonfiction a go, but shall we confine 'feminist' to Shirley Valentine, Mamma Mia and hen nights? I equally spurn the masculist, from Bond to Amis père et fils

The Guardian's review catches her nicely (she's a Thinker, she's feisty, and she's Of Her Period; and I'm not maligning Carter herself - The Bareback Reader says 'she must have played dice with the devil to write that well' - so much as her coterie) but Private Eye of 10th February provides a, shall we say, contrasting perspective. You'll need to get hold of a paper copy as the Eye is strictly old school - in fact now I think about it, it's positively the last masculist redoubt. Why do women neither write for it nor read it? Of course Sandi Toksvig may well do both, but does she count? And does this make us deeper or shallower?

Some of the positive coverage did hit on an inadvertent truth, which is that during the Thatcher era right-thinking people went a bit doolally, confronted as they were with a conservative thinker who walked the walk, but not through a sense of entitlement. Ironic, then, that the beneficiaries of the grammar schools helped destroy them, presumably from a misplaced sense of guilt, something we could do with a bit more of, misplaced or otherwise, nowadays - the Politics of Envy's finest hour

Just seen Davy Jones has gone. EJ Thribb has a gift for his next obituary. My mother once asked me if he was genuine, bless her! She was a serious soul

Oh, and hearty thanks for the two 'helpful' postings so far!

PS Re the Carterian reputation, can't resist reproducing this review of Nights at the Circus from one Sporus

'Carter is a devotee of feminist interpretations of Lacanian theory. 'Nights at the Circus' is duly littered with (metaphorical) mirrors, with phrases such as the 'freedom of the mask', and studded with paragraphs that explain how the 'eye of the beholder' affects the object it beholds. Even if you don't especially object to Lacan, this tendentious framework can irritate. The story arc (as distinct from the cooked-up elements of 'magical realism') offers few surprises and the observations are effectively censored by the guiding philosophy (which is itself a kind of Lacanian paradox). Carter's prose style can be horribly 'purple'. The favoured characters are differentiated with idiomatic voices but tend to share their author's aspirational vocabulary - which last often reeks of the thesaurus (there's a sentence where someone walks 'between the pediments of the doorway' - which is just plain embarrassing). The book also progressively succumbs to dated 80's experimental effects: the second section concludes with a kind of 'pataphor' where the heroine escapes on a toy train that becomes real, while the third section mixes first and third person narratives to no clear benefit. At one point in the book Carter describes how the world's shamans manage to retain their integrity despite using fraudulent deception to sustain people's belief; and in a sense, that's what she does herself. There's a very funny joke about the heroine's virginity at the end of the book which perhaps carries the point ("She laughed. She laughed. She laughed."). Carter benefited from the metropolitan bias of the UK publishing industry, while her Lacanian credentials have sustained her presence on University reading lists: she still has a committed fan base, but this - her 'masterpiece' - seems both dated and clumsy'

I think this must have been the one I tried reading. Oh well
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