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Burning your boats : the collected short…

Burning your boats : the collected short stories (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Angela Carter

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Forty-two stories. In The Bloody Chamber, a bride discovers she married a sadist, The Quilt Maker is on aging, and Our Lady of the Massacres is on the destruction of Indians.
Title:Burning your boats : the collected short stories
Authors:Angela Carter
Info:New York : Penguin, 1997.
Collections:Your library

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Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter (Author) (1995)


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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
there are a handful of good stories among a sea of overwrought, mediocre ones. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
I feel like Angela Carter's stories are a bit like really rich chocolate truffles. One or two at a time are wonderful but eating thirty in a row will just make you sick. I made the mistake of reading straight through these stories and I just got sick of them by the end. Some of them were good, others not really at all. And some I'm not sure should really be qualified as stories since they seemed to be more thoughts or essays. There was also a lot of sex which got to be ridiculous (with people, with animals, with fruit...). Ultimately, I wasn't that impressed with Carter as a writer. ( )
  mmtrick | Oct 23, 2019 |
One of our most imaginative and accomplished writers, Angela Carter left behind a dazzling array of work: essays, citicism, and fiction. But it is in her short stories that her extraordinary talents—as a fabulist, feminist, social critic, and weaver of tales—are most penetratingly evident. This volume presents Carter's considerable legacy of short fiction gathered from published books, and includes early and previously unpublished stories. From reflections on jazz and Japan, through vigorous refashionings of classic folklore and fairy tales, to stunning snapshots of modern life in all its tawdry glory, we are able to chart the evolution of Carter's marvelous, magical vision.
  Cultural_Attache | Jul 27, 2018 |
Not much plot among a great bouquet of atmosphere. Plot is taken up if it lying around handy and not even much turned about and only upended for Little Red in her forest. It is decorated with old seaweed and menstrual rags, dusted with spangles and faux pearls. ( )
  quondame | Dec 26, 2017 |
I sometimes have trouble unravelling exactly how I feel about a short story collection: individual stories in isolation are one thing, but a story that might normally knock my socks off doesn't always strike me as so impressive when I'm reading it after having read thirty other stories by the same author immediately prior. I tend to think that the short stories of most authors simply don't work well in large collections, since most authors don't have the range in writing style to keep such collections interesting for me (Alice Munro), and even those that do write in a variety of styles oftentimes focus on the same themes or ideas repeatedly (Borges [who I love in a moderate length collection like Ficciones, but who I don't think comes off nearly as well if you try to read his complete collected fictions straight through]).

Carter belongs to the group that writes in varying styles, but who tends to explore the same themes and topics over and over again. The large majority of Carter's stories feature taboo or strange sexual escapades, many of them tell the tale of a transformation or descent into savagery, and Carter often likes to reimagine fairy tales or other communal stories in a darker and more sexualized way. Credit where credit is due, Burning Your Boats shows that Carter wasn't merely writing about taboo sex for its shock value, but was genuinely fascinated by the topic, as she tried to explore the subject from multiple angles. Unfortunately it's a topic that loses its emotional impact when it is brought up over and over again, and Carter has some instance of it in almost every story in this collection.

The fact that Carter writes in a variety of styles helps make the collection more readable despite the frequently reoccurring themes and topics, since it made each story different through unique stylistic choices. That said, some of the experiments with format, concept, writing style, etc. worked better than others. The snarky tone of Puss-in-Boots works, as does the idea of writing a prequel of sorts to set the stage for A Midsummer Night's Dream, but the overly surreal Reflections and the disjointed and unexplained nature of The Merchant of Shadows left me unengaged, not intrigued. Carter does some very interesting things in her early writing, like using the entire first three pages of a six page story just to establish the setting, but later in her career her narrative technique moved toward writing about some relatively obscure topic without giving the reader any frame of reference. I'm not a fan of this technique, at least not how Carter uses it here. Overall, therefore, I'd say that the literary experimentation that worked balanced out the experimentation that doesn't, plus at least Carter was trying new things instead of writing the exact same story in the exact same style every time.

Despite the themes and topics of Carter's story being repetitive and her literary experimentation being hit-or-miss, there are certainly some first-class stories here. I loved The Executioner's Beautiful Daughter and the desolate setting Carter painted. I also very much liked The Bloody Chamber, which in my opinion is Carter's best reimagining of a fairy tale. Finally, The Ghost Ships was a lot of fun to read and its subject matter isn't too obscure. Unfortunately, besides the occasional standout, most of the stories in this collection didn't strike home for me. All of them, however, were interesting in at least some way. I'd definitely recommend checking out a couple of her stories so that you can tell if she's your kind of author, but I'd only recommend reading the entirety of Burning Your Boats straight through if you are interested in observing her progression as an author (not in skill, but in the topics she continuously explores). At the end of the day, my opinion is that Angela Carter is a talented short story writer that wrote some very good stories, but that as a collection Burning Your Boats doesn't work very well. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carter, AngelaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rushdie, SalmanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All artists, they say, are a little mad.
He said, "Mirrors make a room uncosy." I am sure there is more to it than that although they love to be cosy. One must love cosiness if one is to live so close together. ["A Souvenir of Japan", p 32 in Burning Your Boats]
Had the marionette all the time parodied the living or was she, now living, to parody her own performance as a marionette? ["The Loves of Lady Purple", p 51 in Burning Your Boats]
The topmost branches twined so thickly that only a subdued viridian dazzle of light could filter through and the children felt against their ears a palpable fur of intense silence. ["Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest", p 61 in Burning Your Boats]
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Forty-two stories. In The Bloody Chamber, a bride discovers she married a sadist, The Quilt Maker is on aging, and Our Lady of the Massacres is on the destruction of Indians.

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