The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter.
After what I said about the other book by Angela Carter I read a few weeks back, you might be surprised to see another one here.. this latest one was part of my college course reading list and seeing that my ‘quest’ has been partly derailed by all the extra work I’m doing I thought I’d include it anyway. A book is a book is a book.
Is Angela Carter my favourite author? No, I wouldn’t say that… but her books are different and open up all sorts of discussions and pose questions and kind of stay with you for a long time and that can only be a sign that a book is worth your while. Chewing gum for the brain, it ain’t.
So what about this one…. gosh, where to start…
The plot is bonkers. End of. Immature and chauvinist Englishman Evelyn goes to New York, the city is full or riots/violence. Makes girlfriend pregnant, leaves her, gets stranded in the desert where gets kidnapped by a group of women ran by monstrous and mythical ‘Mother’ who physically turned him into a woman, Eve… rans away, gets taken in by a cult ran by one eye, one legged pseudo poet, Zero who talks in grunts and who’s convinced he’s been made infertile by Tristesse, this beautiful perfect woman/actress who lives in isolation in the desert in a crystal tower. Then Zero made Eve (now a woman) marry Tristesse (who turns out to be a man) and Eve gets pregnant and….
it’s too much. Seriously. Head spinning, circus meets Mad Max.
Except. Everything has a meaning, no imagery is left to chance, the language is rich and luscious and lurid and beautifully crafted. It manages to be funny in a dark dark way.. It’s a postmodern view of what’s like to be a woman, a victim, a vengeful being, an object, a warrior. The whole of society is turned upside down, there is no order anywhere…
I could go on and on.
Frankly I found it quite exhausting to read. I had to take breaks to digest it all, but like I said at the beginning it kind of sticks with you and it forces you to open your eyes to different issues. It’s more than a book, in a sense, almost a pamphlet, an allegory for what it’s like to be a woman at the time (it was written in 1977… I was young, really into Anne of Green Gables… so not aware of all the 2nd wave feminism going on around me) but also a warning about not going too far the other way…
… but it is totally bonkers.