Angela Carter’s travels in America.
Edmund Gordon will discuss his book The Invention of Angela Carter, from which the below is excerpted, tonight at McNally Jackson with Christian Lorentzen.
Angela Carter and her husband, Paul, flew to New York on July 29, 1969. They arrived in the aftermath of the Stonewall riots, when the city was fractious and twitchy in the midsummer heat. A few weeks earlier, the first American troops had withdrawn from Vietnam (an outcome Angela thought was “in human terms … the single most glorious event since the abolition of slavery”), but in August the headlines were dominated by gun battles between Black Panthers and police, the bombing of the Marine Midland building on Broadway by a radical left-wing activist, and the gruesome murders perpetrated by the Manson family in Los Angeles and the Zodiac Killer in San Francisco. Angela felt that the status quo “couldn’t hold on much longer. The war had been brought home.” She found Manhattan “a very, very strange and disturbing and unpleasant and violent and terrifying place … The number of people who offered to do me violence was extraordinary.” The trip was the basis for the Expressionist portrait of New York in her novel The Passion of New Eve—it’s depicted as a society in the last stages of moral and economic collapse—which she described as “only a very slightly exaggerated picture, not of how it was in New York but of how it felt that summer.” She met one of the models for Tristessa—the novel’s transvestite leading lady—in Max’s Kansas City, the legendary nightclub in the East Village where the house band was the Velvet Underground,and the clientele was composed largely of artists, writers and musicians, including such luminaries as Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, and Patti Smith.
Angela and Paul spent three days in the city before traveling by Greyhound bus through Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Angela wrote to her friend Carole Roffe: Read More