States of Abjection Black Venus was Angela Carters third collection of short stories in 11 years. In this collection, she progressed beyond the fairy tale, and wrote both more realistically and more metaphorically about the different states of exile, oppression, captivity, imprisonment, enslavement, disconnectedness, helplessness, domesticity, nostalgia, enchantment, piousness and solitude in which her mostly female characters and narrators (women and girls alike) found themselves. The Protracted Childhood of Lizzie Borden Lizzie Borden, the focus of the story The Fall River Axe Murders, is a motherless child, orphaned at two years old, poor thing. Lizzies natural father, Old Borden, remarried, though Lizzie and her stepmother did not get on: This stepmother oppressed her like a spell. Lizzie still lives with her father, stepmother and sister at age 32. Overture and Beginners for the Children's Theatre of the Abject (1.) The narrator in The Kitchen Child comes from more modest stock: his mother is a cook. The narrator searches for a description that is analogous to the expression born in a trunk (which relates to a child who is born into the environment of theatre and sups grease-paint with mothers milk). Interestingly, Angela Carter used this very expression in relation to Edgar Allan Poes mother in the earlier story, The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe (2.) (whom he describes as born in a trunk, grease-paint in her bloodstream. For the child, at least, the mother provided some relief from abjection. In the earlier story, Poe easily transferred his adoration of his mother to his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who unfortunately died of consumption at the age of 24: Goodnight, Sweet Prince In the Words of Angela Carter On his brow her rouged lips Left the mark of Cain.
Carter and Davenport have magic time-piercing eyes, and pungent erotic styles.
I have not actually read this book, but one particularly angst-filled mid-90's summer of my adolescence I found myself next to a bonfire after, I believe, a particularly angst-filled mid-90's community production of "Little Shop of Horrors." Some girl or something was around the party somewhere, and I could only assume at the time that she was french-kissing madly with some lucky schmuck who (of course) was probably getting to touch her boobs.
The title character of the short story Black Venus is a Creole woman called Jeanne Duval, Charles Baudelaire's mistress and muse.
Apart from that, all the eight "pieces" (one cannot call them stories, I think) in this slim volume are delightfully unconventional: subversive, if you like. But I think the gem of the collection is the last story, which delves into the mind of Lizzie Borden.
I've long been an enthusiastic fan of Carter's neo-Gothic/fairy tale collection The Bloody Chamber and I'd browsed through some of her other short stories as well, always finding them fascinating. Despite the Po-Mo techniques and obvious sociopolitical significance of Carter's voice as a woman writer, however, the heart of her tales, for me, lies deeper, in her individual imagination and ability to conjure up tales from whatever materials--fairy tales, Gothic, her favorite authors' lives, famous murderers, or even Prokofiev's little ditty about a boy not afraid of wolves.
I forced time into my un-giving schedule to read this short collection.
In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in Nothing Sacred (1982) that she "learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised." She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972). As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in Shaking a Leg. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Wolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens.