Angela Carter's "The Kitchen Child"

"That was when too much cayenne went in."
Although I've already posted about the Guardian Books short stories podcast, I wanted to single out one episode from the dozen: Helen Simpson's recording of Angela Carter's "The Kitchen Child." This fully-equipped story of belowstairs life provides a nutritional supplement to the frothier kitchen bustling currently being purveyed by the TV drama "Downton Abbey" (a sweet and savory indulgence to which I have succumbed, but it does not stick to the ribs like the Carter). Simpson's androgynous voice animates the young man of the title wonderfully and I can't imagine a more satisfying homage. Her reading, devoid of second-hand authorial attitude, is in full service to Carter's ample prose and she keeps the story's use of repetition fresh. The first time I listened my skin stood up. Simpson also plays the humor in the story just right (the housekeeper's wish for a "spanking" new chef who would "gateau Saint-HonorĂ© her on her birthday" is deliciously but directly delivered). Carter's work is sometimes over-pantried by the three f's--feminist, fairytale, and fabulist--but in "The Kitchen Child" there is only the magic of rich human cravings and transporting sensory detail. Bon appĂ©tit.

Listening Links: At the Guardian Books page for "The Kitchen Child" (click the big white triangle/arrow to play the audio on your computer), and also listenable/downloadable on iTunes . (24 minutes)