How easy to take a title like Several Perceptions by Angela Carter and write something pithy based on the name of the book?
Wish it was that easy but I've nothing easy to say about Angela Carter other than I wish I'd read more by her and sooner, but perhaps that's the whole point?
Now may be just the right time in my life to appreciate and love her writing.
I'm thinking I might lurk in the back row over on Susan Hill's Autumn Creative Writing Course because who knows, perhaps I could come up with something, though I have spent a lifetime saying I don't have a book in me. The Tinker (father of dgr) said that and look where he's ended up.
I wouldn't like to second-guess any writer that Ms Hill may suggest we read on her syllabus but I'd put money on Angela Carter being up there on the list of choices.I know of one or two writers who profess to be very slow readers preferring to focus on their own writing and thus attaining an unadulterated and untainted unique voice to their work and if that's the case then I definitely don't have what it takes.
I can see the sense in Jane Smiley taking time out to read a hundred novels and Louise Doughty in the Daily Telegraph sending everyone off to read read read.I heard her on the radio recently and was struck by this generosity of spirit that many writers seem to have.Plenty who'd rather the rest of us didn't know the tricks of the trade and others who are only too happy to share.
Imagine not reading Penelope Fitzgerald or Angela Carter if you were a writer ? It would be somehow like finding out the winning lottery numbers in that Back to the Future way and then not using them.
Several Perceptions is a slight book at 148 pages which should already speak volumes in the less is more category and as I started reading I felt a sense of rising wonder at the way the words were just arranged on the page in the order they were.
It was as fundamental as that and I had to keep reading and re-reading to check and double check to believe just how clever and unique and original the writing actually was.
It's a book about the 1960's and young Joseph, disillusioned and of the flower-power ilk but not really quite sure how he fits into it all or what he should be protesting about. There's plenty to choose from with Vietnam being top of his list but he stops short of anything too radical and releases a badger from the local zoo instead.
Much of this book is out and out witty and funny but with moments of real seriousness as Angela Carter must have taken a step back from the world she was living in and cast her wry eye over it all.
The imagery is beyond splendid and to pull it out of context and try and quote would do it no favours but I have to mention Mrs Boulder's hands
"smooth and white as pillows...her Dunlopillo hands".
Dunlopillo, for those who may not be familiar with it is a dimpled latex carpet underlay and the imagery suits the plump and traditionally built Mrs Boulder to perfection.She has also just been spotted processing about "in the stately manner of one about to launch a ship or open a fete".
It's all bliss and delight to the reading soul.