In her first novel in verse, Anne Carson bridges the gap between classicism and the modern, poetry and prose, with a volcanic journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon.
There is a strong mixture of whimsy and sadness in Geryon's story. He is tormented as a boy by his brother, escapes to a parallel world of photography, and falls in love with Herakles--a golden young man who leaves Geryon at the peak of infatuation. Geryon retreats ever further into the world created by his camera, until that glass house is suddenly and irrevocably shattered by Herakles' return. Running throughout is Geryon's fascination with his wings, the color red, and the fantastic accident of who he is.
Autobiography of Red is a deceptively simple narrative layered with currents of meaning, emotion, and the truth about what it's like to be red. It is a powerful and unsettling story that moves, disturbs, and delights.
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Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red is a novel in verse, the author's first. A classicist by profession as well as a poet, Carson has drawn on antiquity for her cast, updating the myth of Geryon and Herakles. In the original version, of course, Herakles killed the red-skinned, winged Geryon. In Carson's very contemporary retelling, he merely inspires, but does not return, the monster's passion. By choosing Geryon as her central character, Carson can bring up the questions of existence as if they hadn't been asked before. After all, the monster's instincts have not been numbed by civilization. Fires twist through him. We feel the pain of learning the most elementary things, and then the volcanic intensity that comes with that more advanced thing, love. Yet Carson doesn't so much tell the story of Geryon's love as mediate his very being through semiological surfaces: cafes, video stores, lipstick, a library where he shelves government documents with a "forlorn austerity, / tall and hushed in their ranges as veterans of a forgotten war." Carson seldom satisfies herself with an image of the world. Instead she atomizes the world, leaving it broken down, refracted, and glinting. At times her verbal pyrotechnics manage to render pure energy:
A little button at the end of each range activated the fluorescent track above it.No novelist could have gotten away with that last line. Yet it's very much to the point: Carson's Geryon is, among other things, a camera freak who doesn't understand that an observer must inevitably alter the nature of the thing observed. Here is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, cheek-by-jowl with the ancients! And indeed, Carson's achievement is to interweave the archaic and the modern so seamlessly that by the time we finish reading Autobiography of Red, the entire landscape looks inside out. --Mark Rudman From the Back Cover:
A yellowing 5 x 7 index card
Scotch-taped below each button said EXTINGUISH LIGHT WHEN NOT IN USE.
Geryon went flickering
through the ranges like a bit of mercury flipping the switches on and off.
The librarians thought him
a talented boy with a shadow side.
"The most exciting poet writing in English today.... A rare
talent -- brilliant and full of wit,passionate and also deeply moving."
- Michael Ondaatje
"A novel in the shape of a poem, a classical story made contemporary--wry, poignant, beautiful and occasionally erotic. Carson writes like an angel--Her passions recall that incandescent chronicler of love Elisabeth Smart [and] Malcolm Lowry--This romantic fable is--a rare (red) bird among Canadian novels--A wonderful book of dense, glittering prose poetry that is both timely and timeless." - Katherine Govier, Time
"Amazing -- I haven't discovered any writing in years so marvelously disturbing." - Alice Munro
"Wildly imaginative and inventive--The first dozen pages will convince anyone--that Carson is an authentic and original talent." - Douglas Fetherling, The Ottawa Citizen
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Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110375401334
Book Description Book Condition: New. New. Bookseller Inventory # S-0375401334
Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0375401334
Book Description Alfred A Knopf, US, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. Signed by the author. The book is in excellent condition, with no bumps, blemishes or defects. The jacket is in very goos condition with just some slight foxing to the front and back and some light tanning to the edges. "Red Doc>" (sequel) is also available in a signed, numbered leatherbound slipcased first edition. The author's debut novel, in verse. One of the greatest books of our time. Review Copy. Review Material laid-in. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a very small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now rare. Presents Anne Carson's breakthrough novel and masterpiece. "Bridges the gap between Classicism and the Modern, poetry and prose, with a volcanic journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon. There is a strong mixture of whimsy and sadness in Geryon's story. He is tormented as a boy by his brother, escapes to a parallel world of photography, and falls in love with Herakles, a golden young man who leaves Geryon at the peak of infatuation. Geryon retreats ever further into the world created by his camera, until that glass house is suddenly and irrevocably shattered by Herakles' return. Running throughout is Geryon's fascination with his wings, the color red, and the fantastic accident of who he is. A deceptively simple narrative layered with currents of meaning and emotion" Anne Carson : "I began to wonder what happened to them in later life. 'Red Doc>' (2013) continues their adventures in a very different style and with changed names. To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing" "A spellbinding achievement" (Susan Sontag) "Carson is a wisdom writer" (Harold Bloom). "The most exciting poet writing in English today" (Michael Ondaatje). An absolute "must-have" title for Anne Carson collectors. This is a Review Copy, and it is very prominently, neatly, and beautifully signed (initialled, as is her custom), and inscribed in black ink-pen on the title page by the author: "Respectfully, AC". Anne Carson rarely does public appearances/signings, making signed copies of her books quite scarce. This title is now highly collectible. Copies available on-line command as much as $900. A rare signed copy thus. One of the greatest living poet/writers. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 001018