The Millions

On Carmen Maria Machado’s Body Horrors

In her introduction to the 2015 reissue of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, an exhilarating collection of literary retellings of fables and fairy tales, Kelly Link describes the book’s indelible effect on her work:

The things that I needed when I was beginning to think about writing short stories were the things that I found in The Bloody Chamber. I needed to see how stories could be in conversation with other stories. I needed to see how playfulness and generosity and friction—of ideas, in language, in the admixture of high and low, the mythic and the psychologically realistic—were engines for story and structure and point of view.

Link partly attributes the vital hybridity of Carter’s work to the self-conscious storytelling inherent to supernatural literature. “The literature of the fantastic,” she writes, “is peculiar inof stories.” These stories cannot hide that they rely upon other stories and are, in some sense, about storytelling itself. Such work thrives by embracing this history in order to transform it.

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