cover image The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington. Dorothy, a Publishing Project (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-0-9973666-4-8

The surrealist painter and writer Carrington (The Hearing Trumpet) was rescued from a Spanish mental institution by her nanny and spirited away in a submarine—and her fiction is stranger than the facts of her life. A menagerie of eccentric humans, bloodthirsty talking animals, and hybrid creatures is on display in her fantastic, and fantastical, collection of stories. “I’ve always detested balls, especially when they are given in my honour,” says the narrator of “The Debutante,” the memorable opening tale. As is the case throughout, the narrator coolly maintains an arch tone as things take a gruesome, surreal turn. The next story, “The Oval Lady,” which depicts a chilling confrontation between a headstrong youth and a paternal tyrant, demonstrates how effectively Carrington weds whimsy and terror. Among the works, which were written in English, Spanish, and French, are a melancholy fairy tale (“The Three Hunters”), a medicopolitical satire involving Soviet rats trained to operate on people (“Et in Bellicus Lunarum Medicalis”), and a nightmarish depiction of lustful appetites (“The Sisters”). Some of the caprice-like entries fail to leave a lasting impression, but each contains at least one arresting image or deadpan witticism: “I myself am modern and a complete atheist like all enlightened ecclesiastics.” The best use their grotesque conceits or savage comedy to plumb the mysteries of life’s dread desires: “You can’t love anyone until you have drawn blood and dipped in your fingers and enjoyed it.” (Apr.)