' "Grandmother, what big arms you have!"
"All the better to hold you with, my dear."
"Grandmother, what big legs you have!"
"All the better to run with, my dear."
Grandmother, what big ears you have!"
"All the better to hear with, my dear."
"Grandmother, what big eyes you have!"
"All the better to see with, my dear."
Grandmother, what big teeth you have!"
"All the better to eat you up!"
At that, the wicked wolf threw himself upon Little Red Riding Hood and gobbled her up, too.
Children, especially pretty, nicely brought-up young ladies, ought never to talk to strangers; if they are foolish enough to do so, they should not be surprised if some greedy wolf consumes them, elegant red riding hoods and all.
Now, there are real wolves, with hairy pelts and enormous teeth; but also wolves who seem perfectly charming, sweet-natured and obliging, who pursue young girls in the street and pay them the most flattering attentions.
Unfortunately, these smooth-tongued, smooth-pelted wolves are the most dangerous of all.'
Blubeard and other stories
(Little Red Riding Hood)
God knows who reads this, but if you do and have for a decent amount of time you'll probably have picked up on my undying, unadulterated and unashamed love for Angela Carter.
(If not . . . what the fuck?)
She's my lady, what can i say.
It actually pains me that she's shuffled off this wretched planet and never another word of hers will be committed to print.
She was only 51.
How in the world is that fair?
The only comfort that can be taken is that she's been immortalised in her work.
Of which i'm yet to read all of.
Her re-workings of Charles Perrault's classic fairy tales are yet another notch in the literary bedpost i'm currently whittling down to cinder - pun intended.
And it was a notch well spent.
Normally, i find re-imaginings of classic short stories a little lacklustre and tend to forget them almost as soon as the last word has permeated my brainpan.
This has even been the case with Carter and some of her other reinterpreted tales.
But not Bluebeard and his compatriots.
Carter has enough wit - and them some - to elevate simple fables to higher ground.
The most favourable aspect of this elevation, i find, is the dignity and strength she restores to the women of these stories.
So often the 'fairer' sex is just a pretty face to be chased, rescued and married.
Not exactly representative of women as a whole, is it?
Carter took note of this and in true form put women back in their rightful place as intelligent, strong and resourceful badasses who can be chased, rescued and married if they want to be.
And this is why i love/adore/worship her.
And demand everyone else do so also.
I've run out of shelf space.
But i'll never stop buying books.
Some of the family now reside on my desk.
I'm slowly being cocooned by books and it's really bloody comforting.
' "She wants to be flowers," said Huw, "but you make her owls. Why do we destroy ourselves?"
"She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting." '
The Owl Service
When it comes to Alan Garner, there are six of his books you must read:
I've read all but Red Shift.
But it's only a matter of time.
He's come to be one of my favourite authors in a very short space of time.
I'm only sorry i didn't start devouring his works when i was much younger.
The terror and exhilaration they would have caused me as a child would have been nothing short of bewitching.
Some things are better experienced in the first flush of youth.
Naivety and a healthy respect for the dark and all its creatures naturally gives charge to the type of tales Garner lives to spin.
Luckily, as an 'adult', the dark still gives me comfort and the creeps, so Garner's stories aren't lost on me.
The Owl Service is however my least favourite so far.
I'm unsure why.
Maybe because the children are such little shits i couldn't give a damn what happened to them?
Or that the fantastical element of this particular story was more suggested than seen - perhaps a little under-suggested for my liking.
More than likely it's both.
I like my fantasy to hit me where it hurts and my characters to have depth and at least a smidgen of amiability.
Even the most curmudgeonly, ill-tempered brute needs a relatable characteristic to keep the reader interested.
Or is that just me?
Here's hoping Red Shift will be more to my liking.
And then there's The Stone Book Quartet to look forward to.
Be still my fantasy-loving heart.
' "Floating redundant", she murmured blissfully as the vessel banked and turned and a disembodied male voice spoke in the cabin, announcing that there was a veil of water vapour over France but that that would burn off, and then they would see the Alps, when the time came. Burn off was a powerful term, she thought, rhetorically interesting, for water does not burn and yet the sun's heat reduces this water to nothing; I am in the midst of fierce forces. I am nearer the sun than any woman of my kind, any ancestress of mine, can ever have dreamed of being, I can look in his direction and stay steadily here, floating redundant.
The phrase was, of course, not her own; she was, as I have said, a being of a secondary order. The phrase was John Milton's, plucked from the air, or the circumambient language, at the height of his powers, to describe the beauty of the primordial coils of the insinuating serpent in the Paradise garden. Gillian Perholt remembered the very day these words had first coiled into shape and risen in beauty from the page, and struck at her, unsuspecting as Eve. There she was, sixteen years old, a golden-haired white virgin with vague blue eyes (she picture herself so) and there on the ink-stained desk in the dust was the battered emerald-green book, inkstained too, and secondhand, scribbled across and across by dutiful or impatient female fingers, and everywhere was a smell, still drily pungent, of hot ink and linoleum and dust if not ashes, and there he was, the creature, insolent and lovely before her.'
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
'After staring at the pile of letters on his desk for a long time, he looked out the window. A slow spring rain was changing the dusty tar roofs below him to shiny patent leather. The water made everything slippery and he could find no support for either his eyes or his feelings.
Turning back to his desk, he picked up a bulky letter in a dirty envelope. He read it for the same reason that an animal tears at a wounded foot: to hurt the pain.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts―'
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