Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet (Book acquired, 1 Dec. 2020)

NYRB will have a new edition of surrealist painter Leonora Carrington’s 1976 novel The Hearing Trumpet out in early January of 2021. I started it this afternoon, and the first 20 or so pages seem to divert in style from the short stories I’ve read by her—definitely chock full of quirky imagery, but also relatively straightforward in their execution. At around the 20 page mark, though, the narrative dips into demented dreamland. Ali Smith’s blurb promises there’s more under the surface:

The Hearing Trumpet . . . reads on its parodic surface like an Agatha Christie domestic mystery, but one melted, dissolved by extreme heat into something unthinkably other, and reconstructed as the casebook of an alchemist. . . . It asks its readers to allow the dark, allow the wild and rethink how power works. It is a work of massive optimism. . . . One of the most original, joyful, satisfying, and quietly visionary novels of the twentieth century.

I also love the blurb from Luis Buñuel:

Reading The Hearing Trumpet liberates us from the miserable reality of our days.

Here’s NYRB’s blurb:

Leonora Carrington, painter, playwright, and novelist, was a surrealist trickster par excellence, and The Hearing Trumpet is the witty, celebratory key to her anarchic and allusive body of work. The novel begins in the bourgeois comfort of a residential corner of a Mexican city and ends with a man-made apocalypse that promises to usher in the earth’s rebirth. In between we are swept off to a most curious old-age home run by a self-improvement cult and drawn several centuries back in time with a cross-dressing Abbess who is on a quest to restore the Holy Grail to its rightful owner, the Goddess Venus. Guiding us is one of the most unexpected heroines in twentieth-century literature, a nonagenarian vegetarian named Marian Leatherby, who, as Olga Tokarczuk writes in her afterword, is “hard of hearing” but “full of life.”

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