Sunday, August 7, 2011
I heart Tarot cards, I really do. They've fascinated me ever since I had my first reading aged 15 and have inspired so much of my writing, culminating in the structure of my YA novel 'Anarchic Angel's' plot. As my work-in-progress has lots of weird and wonderful phenomena but no Tarot cards, I decided to seek out other works that do, as I miss the vast amount of inspiration that the imagery and archetypes of the Tarot can bring.
This review looks at 'The Housewives' Tarot' deck and instruction book, Italo Calvino's 'The Castle of Crossed Destinies' and 'The Tarot of Perfection' by Rachel Pollack.
'The Housewives' Tarot.' Authors: Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum. Publisher: Quirk Books (November 1, 2004) Language: English. ISBN-10: 1931686998. ISBN-13: 978-1931686990 Price: $12.00.
Beautifully presented in an old-fashioned recipe box format, the design of the cards is gorgeous, using muted, 50s hues, while the juxtaposition between retro images of happy families with the often unsettling Tarot images, makes them as creepy as my other favourite 'white picket fence meets freakiness' mash-up Twin Peaks.'
The card spreads are amusing: the 'clothesline of life' or 'the martini' and show that this kit is more of a parlour game than a divination kit, which disappoints me a little. Still, it is refreshing to see a new take on the Tarot.
Italo Calvino's 'The Castle of Crossed Destinies' is considered the seminal work of fiction that incorporates Tarot cards. Its stories are certainly accomplished, not to mention compelling, but I can't help but think that without a cursory knowledge of the Tarot, a reader could get utterly lost on the significance of the cards that are chosen to tell each character's story.
By contrast, Rachael Pollack's 'The Tarot of Perfection' is very aptly named! Pollack uses individual cards to inspire or to inform her wonderfully imaginative magical realism. I haven't enjoyed a short story collection as much since I read Isabel Allende's 'The Stories of Eva Luna.' These Tarot-themed tales are well-developed and extremely well-written. Pollack is an authority on the Tarot but doesn't over-use the cards as a motif in her fiction writing. 'The Tarot of Perfection' is one of the best books I've read all year, and I have no doubt that its strange, beautiful story worlds will linger on in my mind, just like my other favourite books. Read this short story collection!