The Bloody Chamber

03/04/2009 § Leave a comment

I was not a fan of The Company of Wolves. Definitely not. Sometimes I don’t think Hollywood has any idea what to do with certain material. i.e. The Brothers Grimm, Dune, 1984, all of Kurt Vonnegut Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft’s works, and on and on and on…

I had heard about The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from some essays that I recently read and did a quick search about it. Slightly annoyed that she was the writer of aforementioned Neil Jordan’s stinker of a movie, I decided to get the book and give it a go.

After reading the title story The Bloody Chamber I was was starting to think this Angela Carter was a genius. Then I read her two versions of Beauty and the Beast and was certain. Unfortunately nothing gold can stay. Thanks Stevie Wonder and Ponyboy Curtis. And of course Robert Frost for writing that poem.

The Bloody Chamber is a retelling of Bluebeard. Oh that Bluebeard. Such a joker. It’s told from the new wife’s point of view and it really succeeds in capturing the crazy gamut of her feelings. From horror to revulsion to acceptance. It’s a strange line of narrative to go down because I feel like she must have been fairly screwed up in the first place for her to be a willing victim in the end.  I accidentally pictured the tomb of the dead wives exactly like Vincent Price’s oubliette in The Fall of the House of Usher…complete with Iron Maiden and woman inside. When our heroine discovers the wonder emporium for killing wives she just kinda takes it in stride. She freaks a little but not what you’d expect. I’d have probably pissed my pants, gone totally bonkers, then ran into the woods mumbling something about Cthulhu. Whenever I’m scared it always comes back to Cthulhu. But that’s just me. I must say though It was thoroughly enjoyable read and incredibly well written…at times wordy but often that is packaged with really flowery prose.

The Beauty and the Beast retellings are equally good, though a little shorter. In a particularly nice touch the Beast wins the girl from her drunk old man in a game of cards. *wink Why is the Beast playing cards anyways?

So. I don’t know. I really enjoyed these three stories. Definitely worth reading.

Then came Puss in Boots. I never really cared for this story in the first place and was very skeptical, then ultimately disappointed. I almost couldn’t read it. The story is told by Puss and ugh! I don’t know. Why is it every time someone writes from an animals point of view…when there aren’t other anthropomorphized animals for them to talk to, they turn them into horrible caricatures of precocious children….or in this case a horrible version of Peppy Le Pew. No doubt because the origins are French but…merde!

Proud of his fine, white shirtfront that dazzles harmoniously against his orange tangerine tesselations (oh! what a fiery suit of lights have I); &tc.

Oh yeah. Puss sometimes speaks in the third person.

…and on and on and on for fifteen pages. Puss connives to steal away some girl for his master. And everyone is having sex. And Puss is licking himself like a jerk. So bad. Shockingly bad. I don’t even want to mention the rest in this collection. The story that The Company of Wolves is based on is in here and I think those involved with that movie should have gone with The Bloody Chamber….but that was like 1984 so I was three. Eh. Maybe that’s unfair. The wolf stories are okay I guess.

There’s all sorts of critical readings for stories as dense as these. I don’t want to get into a feminist breakdown or a postmodern reading or anything….but it’s all there and I don’t want to talk about it. It’d probably be an annoying discussion.

I really do recommend the first few stories. And she is an incredible author. Upon recommendation I will next read her novel The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. Probably not for a while, but it’s on the list. The title alone merits a look.

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