Angela Carter – Nights at the Circus.

I don’t want to say that I think Carter has finally beaten me…

but I am certainly not winning.

I have had Nights at the Circus on loan since November. It’s now March and I am only on page 149 (of 350). But the library wants it back so consider this a “bookmark” rather than a review if you will.

So here goes… the story centres on Fevvers, a winged woman apparently hatched from an egg to unknown parents and incubated in a brothel. With tales like these, and feathers to match, you can’t trust her. Something which Carter employs to prevent you grasping hold of the narrative. As heaven forbid you should understand it. Or even have somewhere solid to sit in confusion.

Later she almost becomes a human sacrifice before running away with the circus. Where the sinister aspects don’t start or end with the clowns. Carter uses Jack Walser a journalist after a scoop to help tell the story. (I know I haven’t reached the end yet but I would guess he ends up getting more than a scoop.)

Walser quite literally becomes a clown. Gets attacked by a tiger and adopts Mignon, who I think is the strong man’s woman. But by this point I wasn’t sure of much anymore.

Perhaps what makes it harder than the rest is,  other than the feathered leading lady, Nights at the Circus has a stronger link to reality.

It is mundane and times but always obscure. And because the reward with Carter tends to be the sense of achievement for finishing and surviving, it could be a while before I enjoy a circus again.


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