Proving Carter as able with fact as with fantasy, a bewitching nonfiction collection from an almost 30-year career. Even...


SHAKING A LEG: Collected Writings

Proving Carter as able with fact as with fantasy, a bewitching nonfiction collection from an almost 30-year career. Even after two previous nonfiction collections, Nothing Sacred and Expletives Deleted (not reviewed), Carter's prodigious output has plenty of surprises and delights to spring off the pages of this collected edition. Her reputation as a fantasist belies her dryly deflating Yorkshire outlook and her Londoner's worldly view--both of which suffuse her no less serious career as a journalist. (Her Scottish father was a journalist, too.) Eclectic as only a professional wordsmith's oeuvre could be, Shaking a Leg comprises personal essays, book reviews, film and television criticism, fashion and food articles, travel writing, art commentary, and, in short, anything that struck her as interesting. Her fabulist literary affinities led naturally to spirited writings on Borges, Garc'a M‡rquez, William S. Burroughs, Salman Rushdie, and H.P. Lovecraft, among others. She's no less perceptive and piquant, however, when it comes to F. Scott Fitzgerald's money-driven romance The Great Gatsby, Tom Wolfe's claims for New Journalism, the docu-pulp of confessional magazines, or refereeing the literary prize-fighting narrated in ""Trials of a Booker Judge."" Likewise, her pieces on English topics, such as South London's gentrification or her childhood celebrations of Empire Day, are just as sharply and objectively observed as those from her time spent on that other insular island, Japan, including the death of Yukio Mishima. In such a span of subjects and years, Shaking a Leg glows with the aura of autobiography, not simply of her travels and personal roots, but also her intellectual and feminist development. She is simultaneously at her warmest and tartest in describing her trickster figure of a father, her Yorkshire ties that bind, and--in a piece appearing a month before her untimely death--her enchantment by the local movie palace. A nearly bottomless bag of salty opinions, vinegary humor, and crisp wit.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998


Page Count: 642

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998