Written between 1970 and 1973, these short ""tales""--Poe is a model--lack the fierce, fanciful vitality of Carter (The...


FIREWORKS: Nine Stories in Various Disguises

Written between 1970 and 1973, these short ""tales""--Poe is a model--lack the fierce, fanciful vitality of Carter (The Passion of New Eve, The Sadeian Woman) at her disturbing best; meant to ""provoke unease,"" most of them merely weigh down fragmentary images or narratives with philosophical/sexual abstractions. Three stories offer the repetitious, first-person reflections of a western woman alone in Japan: she muses on her Japanese lover (""his dedication was primarily to the idea of himself in love""); she expounds on Japanese repression (""In its programmed interstices, monstrous passions bloom""); she cruises around Tokyo, pushed by lust, meditating on mirrors (""Women and mirrors are in complicity with one another to evade the action I/she performs that she/I cannot watch. . .""). In a more familiar Carter vein, there are sex/violence fables, some with heavy-handedly feminist themes: an executioner beheads his son for committing incest with his sister (a ""pastel beauty"" in a land where ""all, without exception, are filthy and verminous""); a puppeteer's pornographic, sex-object marionette comes to life, kills her maker, but has been eternally programmed for prostitution; likewise, a violence-loving hunter sexually brutalizes a native girl, reducing her to a jungle animal; and, in ""Reflections,"" the narrator is abducted by a ""savage and severe wood-ranger"" and her androgynous aunt--who rape him with the old gun/ phallus equivalency and lead him into the mirror/narcissism world: ""I held out my hands to embrace my self, my anti-self, my self not-self, my assassin, my death, the world's death."" The only piece here which does, in fact, provoke both interest and unease is ""Elegy for a Freelance""--an almost-funny memoir by a terrorist/revolutionary, who remembers the good old days in a London-flat commune when ""A"" slept with ""B"" and ""C"" murdered ""X"", etc.: intra-terrorist suspicion, jealousy, rivalry, and violence ad infinitum. Overall, then: minor, early bits from the gifted Ms. Carter--who's done far better work since with many of the same motifs.

Pub Date: May 20, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1981