Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Nights at the Circus" by Angela Carter


Looking back, I'm not sure why. It's short (less than 300 pages) so it shouldn't have taken me forever to read... although it did. I wouldn't describe it as boring... although it bored me. It wasn't poorly written... although there were a small handful of instances where Carter used the same word twice in close proximity when a synonym would have flowed more nicely (it seemed like laziness rather than emphasis).

So it took a long time for me to read, it bored me, and the writing was occasionally a minor annoyance, and I don't have a good explanation for why I didn't like it. Not even the cute little penguin clown icon on the cover could salvage the experience.

Nights at the Circus tells the story of Sophie (more often called by her Cockney nickname of Fevvers), a winged wonder in Colonel Kearney's circus. She's an acrobat (or arialiste) aided by the giant, feathered wings that sprout from her back, and she's the acclaimed and beloved star of the show. But are her wings real, or a clever sham? That's what reporter Jack Walser would like to know as he interviews her (while simultaneously and unsuspectingly falling in love with her).

I'm pretty sure this is the first book I've read by Angela Carter. She's supposed to be a pretty important writer or something. Maybe she invented magical realism? (I can't be bothered to look this up, so if you're curious and want to know the truth, it's on you.) This book is certainly rife with it. But the book's unfettered strangeness runs amok with no explanation. I really like the "is she real or is she fake" premise, with the possibilities questioned but never really answered; unfortunately none of the rest of the oddities in the book are treated this way. The weirdness just shows up, no explanation, no questions asked.

I'm definitely ready to move on (and have been since about page 12).

1 comment:

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