Angela Carter, Wise Children, and public transit

I couldn’t tell what the kids across the aisle were laughing at on the subway the other night, until I remembered that the cover is affixed upside-down to my copy of Angela Carter’s Wise Children. I must have looked like a madwoman, hiding behind it, reading so intently.

In honor of the forthcoming Wise Children reissue, and while we’re on the subject of the long train commute, here’s a little gentrification rant from the novel’s opening:

Once upon a time, you could make a crude distinction, thus: The rich lived amidst pleasant verdure in the North speedily whisked to exclusive shopping by abundant public transport while the poor eked out miserable existences in the South in circumstances of urban deprivation condemned to wait for hours at windswept bus-stops while sounds of marital violence, breaking glass and drunked song echoed around and it was cold and dark and smelled of fish and chips. But you can’t trust things to stay the same. There’s been a diaspora of the affluent, they jumped into their diesel Saabs and dispersed throughout the city. You’d never believe the price of a house round here, these days. And what does the robin do then, poor thing?

Bugger the robin! What would have become of us if Grandma hadn’t left us this house?

Update: Carrie Frye sees my Angela Carter on gentrification and raises me some Donna Tartt on McMansions. (Little does my opponent know I’ve got a back pocket full of Jonathan Lethem and Tayari Jones.)


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