And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shiny hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur. Imagine that: a great, warm, wet, abrasive tongue licking off skin after skin, down to the bottommost one, which starts to sprout shiny little animal hairs.
It shows the faults endemic to that genre: too much detail, together with a suspicious vagueness about family members who are still alive. But it reclaims Carter from the fairy kingdom and places her within what sounds like a real life.
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Unsurprisingly, we find out that the white witch cared about her reviews and sales. Both parents spoiled Angela outrageously. She was crammed with treats, bombarded with kittens and storybooks. Her mother never put her to bed until after midnight, when Hugh got back from work—she wanted her company—and, even then, often let her stay up. Hugh brought home long rolls of white paper from the office for her, and as her parents chatted she wrote stories in crayon. She grew to be a tall, pudgy child, with a stammer. Between those disadvantages and extreme shyness, which she covered with an aloof and frosty manner, she had few friends.
Olive redoubled her attentions. Angela was not allowed to dress herself, or to go to the bathroom alone. Finally, she rebelled, went on a diet, and changed from a fat, obliging girl to a skinny, rude girl. She slouched around in short skirts and fishnet stockings, smoking and saying offensive things to her mother. She was a good student, though, in a good school. The Butler Act, riding the same democratic wave as the American G. If so, she was one of them.
Sweet Passion Series – The World According to Angela
Her teachers urged her to apply to Oxford. Olive, hearing this, pronounced it an excellent idea, and said that she and Hugh would take an apartment there, to be close to her. Angela thereupon dropped all thought of going to university. Marriage, she realized, would be the only way to escape her parents. In an independent record store, she met a serious-minded young man, Paul Carter, an industrial chemist who moonlighted as a producer and seller of English folk-song records. Gordon thinks that Paul was the first man to take a romantic interest in Angela. They seem to have been happy at the beginning.
Paul taught Angela to love English folk music, thereby giving her a great gift. The folk iconography, in time, offered her an escape hatch from the rather gray realism dominant in British fiction of the period. Folklore also presented her with a set of emotions that, while releasing her, eventually, from sixties truculence, nevertheless felt true , not genteel.
But soon the marriage was failing. Paul suffered engulfing depressions. Sometimes he and Angela barely spoke for days. She felt swollen with unexpressed emotion. She wanted to save herself. On her twenty-second birthday, her Uncle Cecil, knowing that she was unhappy, invited her to lunch at an Italian restaurant and told her to apply to university.
You can leave your husband any time you want. She took his advice. She also encountered Freud, gaining, she thought, a scientific support for the world of shock, dream, and eros that she now saw as the realm of art. A little later, she discovered the Surrealists, and learned from them that the goal of art was not truth as the Leavisites would have it but the marvellous—indeed, that the marvellous was the truth.
All of this fed into her developing feminism. She became an ardent feminist, but not an orthodox one. Her concern was not with justice; she hated the idea of put-upon, suffering women, and implied that they had it coming, by being such weaklings. She wanted women to seize what they needed—power, freedom, sex—and she saw no fundamental difference between the sexes that could prevent that. As she wrote to a friend, Carole Roffe:. And D. Lawrence is infinitely more feminine than Jane Austen, if one is talking about these qualities of sensitivity, vulnerability and perception traditionally ascribed by male critics to female novelists.
Energized by her discoveries, she became a bustling presence in her department and the co-editor of its literary magazine. Gordon has gone through the stapled-together pages of this publication, and reports that the best items were pseudonymous poems by Carter. The unicorn, spying the girl, would come and lay his head in her lap. At the same time, Carter was producing the first novels that she would be willing to publish. She wrote at a furious speed, turning out narratives of violence that were sometimes layered with comedy, sometimes not.
After she gets out of the hospital, he finishes the job, strangling her and leaving her naked corpse in an attic. In one scene, he forces her to play Leda to a mechanical swan. Her next two efforts were in a similar vein. There are excellent things in all these books, but there is also a strong suggestion that Carter is still trying to drive her mother crazy. Even when the material is not shocking, the treatment is often self-indulgent. She did. In , Carter received a Somerset Maugham Award, worth five hundred pounds, to be used for foreign travel.
She decided that she would grant herself an old wish, to go to Japan.
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She arrived in September of that year, without Paul. So the aeroplane ascended or descended into an electric city where nothing was what it seemed at first and I was absolutely confused. It is like a painting of a conversion experience, and, by the time she wrote it, she surely knew that. Within a few weeks, at a Tokyo coffeehouse a Japanese man, Sozo Araki, twenty-four years old—six years her junior—stopped at her table. The next morning, she went back to where she was staying, to take a shower, while he played pachinko , a Japanese version of pinball.
Then they met again, had breakfast, and went to another hotel.
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Araki had recently dropped out of a university program in political science, intending to write a novel, and they apparently did discuss fiction. He liked Faulkner and Dostoyevsky. It seems, though, that he liked Elvis Presley and pachinko better. But literary companionship was not what she was looking for. Nor, it appears, were her interests merely, or even primarily, sexual. Carter seems to have been seeking a sort of rapture, a sensation of being carried to a new place, or to an old, ideal one. She wrote to Paul soon after, asking for a divorce. He took it badly. More than forty years later, he refused to speak to Gordon.
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