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Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories Paperback – August 1, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Baudelaire, Poe, Dream-Shakespeare, Hollywood, panto, fairy tale: [Angela] Carter wears her influences openly, for she is their deconstructionist, their saboteur." So writes Salman Rushdie in his introduction to this essential dark fantasy collection, the complete stories (1962-1993) of a master of perfervid prose, dark eroticism, northern Gothic exuberance (think Isak Dinesen), and Grand Guignol imagery. (You may be familiar with Neil Jordan's movie The Company of Wolves, based on one of Carter's tales.) As the New York Times writes, "There is an archaic cruel streak in many of these stories. Violence is always a possibility; beauty and courage and passion may prevail, but the weak and the timid go to the wall. In this, Angela Carter is true to the material that inspired her. After all, one reason the old fairy tales have survived for hundreds of years is that they do not try to disguise what the world is really like." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The late Angela Carter, better known as a novelist (Wise Children), wrote stories throughout her all-too-brief career, and they are all here, handsomely and perceptively introduced by Salman Rushdie, who was an old friend. These are not at all conventional stories that glimpse moments in contemporary life.They are tales, legends, variations on mythic themes, sparked by writing of great vitality, color and inventiveness, and a deeply macabre imagination. Carter's favorite themes mingle love and death. She cherishes dark forests, winter sunsets, wolves and werewolves, bloody murder, hunters, the cruel, rich husbands of maidens condemned to death. But she also has a ribald, extremely contemporary sense of humor that keeps glancing through the dark mists. Thus John Ford's Jacobean melodrama 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore resurfaces as the script for a movie directed by a 20th-century namesake; a Ph.D. candidate meets his subject's widow, someone very much like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard; and Britain's immortal pantomime characters get a hilarious going-over for their psychosexual significance. There are variations on Lizzie Borden, on the childhood of Edgar Allan Poe and several on Little Red Riding Hood, who gets the better of the Big Bad Wolf in at least two of them (Carter was an ardent but scarcely PC feminist). This is not a collection to be read at a sitting; the stories' jolting intensity makes them indigestible in large doses. But for readers who respond to an antic fancy dressed in highly charged prose, they are a generous treat.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 7.2.1997 edition (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140255281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140255287
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Angela Carter (1940-1992) was the author of many novels, collections of short stories, plays, and books for children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Be aware that Carter's excellent story of Lizzie Bordenis edited in this editon. The fabulou8s dinner scene, described in great detail in other editons of this story has been deleted from this version. E. Hobbs
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Format: Paperback
In 'Notes From the Front Line', Carter said that she was not in the remythologizing business but in the demythologizing business. Anna Katsavos asked Angela Carter what she meant by that. Angela said, 'Well, I'm basically trying to find out what certain configurations of imagery in our society, in our culture, really stand for, what they mean, underneath the kind of semireligious coating that makes people not particularly want to interfere with them.'
Simply stated, Angela Carter has taken icons and myths we were all raised with and given them back to us in a form we know and trust. In stories. Her stories are adult fairy tales; lush, penetrating, uninhibited and dark.
An introduction by Salman Rushdie sets the perfect tone for the reading ahead. It is the closest to gushing the man has ever come. He says, these stories are also a treasure , to savour and to hoard. They begin with her early works, from 1962-6. The Man Who Loved the Double Bass tells the story of a musician in madly love with his instrument. Could he live without her? In the section called Fireworks; Nine Profane Pieces from 1974, Carters work begins an ethereal exploration on of the psyche in achingly beautiful prose. Her ability to write fantastical tableaus is showcased. In The Executioners Daughter, an executioner is told to execute his only son. The setting, itself, becomes a character. In Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest, a brother and sister are nudged into exploring the a dark forest and its hidden fruit tree. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is next, featuring writings from 1979. These are fairy tales retold for adults and contains some of the most stunning and psychological erotic written. Black Venus contains writing from 1985 and American Ghosts and Old World Wonders, work from 1993.
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By A Customer on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately the story of Lizzie Borden in this editon has been edited mercilessly, a fact my English proffessor only became aware of when she was teaching from a different editon--reccommend that one try to find collection in original form--Carter is too good to be edited so thoughtlessly.
1 Comment 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I was first introduced to Carter in my women's lit class, with "The Company of Wolves," (which still stands as my favorite Carter story). I was shocked that I had never read any of her writing before. A few days later, I went and ordered "Burning your Boats." I haven't been disappointed.
Regardless of whether I enjoy the story (and I must admit, I haven't enjoyed all of them), I cannot help but be blown away by her writing. It literally takes my breath away. She is one of the only authors that has this effect on me. Her retellings of fairy tales leave me in awe.
The more of her I read, the more obsessed I become. She is truly an amazing writer. I constantly ask myself how anyone can be so talented. I just don't understand it. Her writing is nothing short of stunning.
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By A Customer on May 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Carter's stories are so beautifully-written I find myself wanting to read them aloud. If only five or so collections of short stories existed in my library, I would make sure "Burning Your Boats" is among them. Carter was fantastic at bringing sexual tension and the macabre to the surface of fairy tales and folklore. Overall, this book is a fine investment of both time and money.
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Format: Hardcover
These stories are extremely engrossing. Carter puts her unique spin on familiar fairy tales, while creating a few new ones of her own. These aren't your grandmother's fairy tales. Carter's work is filled with contradictions and mutations of beauty, profanity, humor, and the macabre, whether told richly as in "The Loves of Lady Purple", or more subtly as in "The Fall River Axe Murders". These dark, beautiful, magical stories are more akin to what fairy tales were originally like before they got all cleaned up.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed the novels of Angela Carter, I decided to give her short stories a try.
Written in the same poetic style, these stories require reading very slowly in order to enoy the language. The dense sybolism requires that you think about each story for a while before proceeding to the next. In fact I would recommend reading only a few at sitting.
Like any author of short stories, Carter wrote a few that failed to draw me in. But these failures only point to the stengths of those that did.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of Carter's work showcases her unique genius handsomely. Her interesting reworkings of popular myths and tales (see also her shorter collection, "The Bloody Chamber") are classics not to be missed, and this text provides one-stop shopping to get her body of short stories in a portable size. The tight, half-creepy, half-sexy, vaguely nihilistic narratives are rich and textured, and are the perfect length for very grown-up bedtime stories.
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