Andrew Tibbetts's Reviews > Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
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Jul 12, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: canadian
Recommended for: Any fan of creative literature
Read in August, 2000

This novel was written for me, it feels. It has the perfect blend of funny and sad, raw and elegant, intellectual and sensual. It blew my mind when I read it. And it's the one of only two books I've re-read several times (Great Expectations being the other.)

There are some clever metafictional framing sections which come at the material from historical and literary angles, but the central section, the heart of the book, is the story, the novel in verse.

"Verse" in Anne Carson isn't strident metrical regularity or forced rhyme, but merely prose that fine tuned and broken into lines. It's stunningly beautiful. Her highly original way with words is bracing.

The story is a retelling of the myth of Hercules and Geryon, the red monster who he kills in one of his labours, as a modern gay romance. Geryon is still a red monster but he's also a sensitive young man who falls in love with impulsive, heroic Hercules, a kind of trailor trash revolutionary.

The book has the melancholy, romantic voluptuousness of Thomas Mann or Carson McCullers pressed through the distilling crackle of T.S. Eliot's literate virtuosity. It manages to be Apollonian and Dionysian. Playful, powerful. Hard, soft. Hopeless, hopeful. There isn't a more successful fusion of opposites in literature.
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Reading Progress

03/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Denis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Denis This one was a stretch for me, Andrew, and I'm glad that you introduced it to me. I loved it too.


message 2: by Red (new) - rated it 4 stars

Red this book was written for me as well


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