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Bookends: Short and sweet

11 February 2012

9:00 AM

11 February 2012

9:00 AM

Before texts and Twitter there were postcards. Less hi-tech, but they kept people in touch. Angela Carter (pictured above) and Susannah Clapp were friends, and over the years, postcards from Carter arrived from wherever her travels took her. They could be quirky, surreal — from America a huge chicken swallowing a truck; the Statue of Liberty drowning in a lake. Others were greetings, scribbled comments, hand-drawn cartoons.

Fourteen are scattered through Susannah Clapp’s A Card from Angela Carter (Bloomsbury, £10): black-and-white reproductions evoking experiences riotous with colour,  charting the progress of a turbulent life that ended too soon.

Carter died of lung cancer in 1992 aged 51. She had loved baroque cinema architecture, and a pink memorial notification invited friends to the Ritzy, Brixton for ‘a celebration of her life and works’.

This book is precisely that: it captures her humour, and describes her obsessions, travels, lefty politics, cats, her husband and son, her works, and their author – witty, unpredictable, fierce.

Carter wrote novels, plays, stories, screenplays and non-fiction. She could be ribald, slinkily feline. She conjured up horror: The Bloody Chamber is not bedtime reading. She demythologised fairytales, subverting their sweetness and putting women at the centre of the story – the wolf Red Riding Hood climbs into bed with is not as we know him from Perrault and Grimm.

A Card from Angela Carter is a slim book, but big-hearted. Unapologetically reverential, it sings with love.

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