Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the magic toyshop by angela carter

a startling tale of the redemptive power of physical and emotional love

one night melanie walks though the garden in her mother's wedding dress. the next morning her world is shattered. forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to long to live with her relatives she has never met: aunt margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile finn, who kisses melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. and brooding uncle philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets her creates in his toyshop. this classic gothic novel established angela carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative works.

where to begin? i want to gush. to rant. to rave. you are brilliant. hands down one of my favorite storytellers ever. the bloody chamber -- a fantastic and terrifying collection of stories. and the magic toyshop was an amazing novel. i hung onto your every word. i would have followed your characters anywhere just to stay with them. your quiet and strange plot was captivating. and the twist at the end -- i didn't see it coming! you subvert everything and blow my mind. it was pretty amazing.

i want the fifteen-year-old version of myself to be friends with melanie. i lust for finn's attentions. i am in rapture of aunt margaret's beauty. i struck by uncle philip's clever toys and bizarre rage. i find myself softening in francie's presence. i am indifferent to john and victoria, but that's okay; i'm supposed to be.

i can see why so many authors have tried to recreate the style of your prose, the imaginative depths to your worlds, the heart behind your characters. it seems so simple and obvious when reading your books, but it's a trick of the light. you've poured so much into your novels. shirley jackson, while arriving on the scene first and truly wonderful in her own right, has nothing on you. and lemony snicket -- oh what a foolish writer he appears now. he spends thirteen snarky and twisted novels trying to do what you've done from your first sentence. he is the poor man's version of you, but let's not judge him in this letter. we can't really compare the two of you. different audience, different forum. but still. i want more. i wish i hadn't finished it. i could have stayed with melanie for another two hundred pages. easily. 

i wish you were still with us. i really do. i will cry the day i run out of new titles by you to read. this isn't a long letter because i don't want to give anything away. but the magic toyshop will go on my list of absolute favorite reads. right up near the top.

dutifully yours,
a lone reader

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