July 29, 2015 by Labrys
Angela Carter’s short stories and novels are often called “gothic” — but that doesn’t strike me as accurate, except possibly describing linguistic style. Her words are used like lyrics and melody to create a drumbeat in your mind. And this slim volume is a variant on the post-apocalyptic genre popular in the “freezing” 60’s of the Cold War Era.
But Carter does not play on the political tone poems of the era, nor survival tips as story line that were common to the genre. Instead, Carter tackles the human dynamics of relationship and sexuality, of manipulative religion an intellectual hubris in the power vacuum of a destroyed future.
Her characters are both fragile and dogged in pursuit of goals. Her post apocalyptic setting is placed post-nuclear, but could as well fit into post-ecological nightmare melt-downs. A survivor from the “barbarian” side living in the countryside and a survivor from the urban intellectual side fall into something like love; “fireworks” barely describes the collision.
I recommend the lushness, the beautiful word portraits she paints; I recommend the honesty of the tale of could-have-beens even as I admit, you hope it never will be.