The unconventional life of Angela Carter

Jacket - ANGELA CARTERMichael Dirda at The Washington Post:

Shortly before Angela Carter’s death in 1992 — from lung cancer, at age 51, after a lifetime of smoking — I reviewed her last novel, the marvel-filled, magnificent “Wise Children,” a century-long saga covering the melodramatic lives and amours of an English theatrical family. Suffused throughout with a Shakespearean air of enchantment, it included an Ophelia-like mad scene, myriad echoes of “King Lear” and “The Tempest,” twins substituting for each other with lovers, knockings at the gate, rude mechanicals, a kitschy Hollywood production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” near-incest, fathers belatedly recognizing daughters, the dead returning to life and, on every page, an atmosphere of mummery and carnival where, in the end, every Jack gets his Jill and all’s right with the world — hey nonny-no! I loved it then, and still do.

Nonetheless, Edmund Gordon’s “The Invention of Angela Carter,” while an exceptionally thoughtful and engrossing biography, has left me wondering whether it’s such a good idea to read about contemporary writers one admires. In the case of Carter, Gordon traces an inner life of intense self-scrutiny, marked at times by melancholy desperation, an almost hysterical search for love, and periodic callousness toward family and friends.

more here.