I first discovered Angela Carter while studying abroad in London. I took a Contemporary British Fiction course and one of the courses covered was Carter’s short story “The Company of Wolves”. I immediately fell in love with her writing and eventually she became the subject of my Senior Seminar in college.
There’s a magical quality to all of Carter’s writing, but I was especially intrigued by her fairy tale re-tellings, published in The Bloody Chamber, a collection of short stories. The very first story of Carter’s I read, “The Company of Wolves” is Carter’s take on the Little Red Riding Hood Story.
What most caught my attention in that first story was the ending. Instead of being the helpless victim who is devoured by the wolf, little red riding hood, takes by the power and tames the wolf: “The girl burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s meat.”
But what I love most about Carter, more than the story itself–more than the bones of the thing–is the language she uses–the way she weaves the tale and makes it something more than an ordinary story. There’s a richness about her writing. It’s like eating a rich, decadent dessert. Every bite has to be savored slowly. You can’t devour it too quickly, nor do you want to. Every word is deliberate.
Her works range from short stories (not just her fairy tales) to novels to literary criticism. There’s a sort of darkness to her writing that perfectly balances the magical elements. Her writing isn’t for the faint of heart, to be sure, but she is one of the writer’s I turn to when I’m in a slump. Her beautiful, magical voice helps re-ignite that flame and remind me why I love this writing thing so much to begin with.
So if you’re looking for something new–something beautiful and magical and a little dark, pick up some Angela Carter and leave a comment to let us know what you think.