Black Venus by Angela Carter
Extraordinary and diverse people inhabit this rich, ripe, occasionally raucous collection of short stories. Some are based on real people - Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire's handsome and reluctant muse who never asked to be called the Black Venus, trapped in the terminal ennui of the poet's passion, snatching at a little lifesaving respectability against all odds...Edgar Allen Poe, with his face of a actor, demonstrating in every thought and deed how right his friends were when they said 'No man is safe who drinks before breakfast.'
And some of these people are totally imaginary. Such as the seventeenth century whore, transported to Virginia for thieving, who turns into a good woman in spite of herself among the Indians, who have nothing worth stealing. And a girl, suckled by wolves, strange and indifferent as nature, who will not tolerate returning to humanity.
Angela Carter wonderfully mingles history, fiction, invention, literary criticism, high drama and low comedy in a glorious collection of stories as full of contradictions and surprises as life itself.