Beth's Reviews > Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
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Jun 27, 12

Read in June, 2012 — I own a copy

This book is the perfect combination of story and philosophy. It conveys the immediacy of sensory and emotional experience while simultaneously asking serious intellectual questions about that experience. The main character, Geryon, is a version of a monster from Greek mythology. Carson turns his monstrosity into all that is both beautiful and difficult about being a creative and desiring person.

The main part of the book is the story of a romance between Geryon and Herakles (In Greek mythology Herakles' tenth labor was to kill the monster Geryon. Carson provides enough context in her introductory sections for the reader to see what she is doing with the Greek sources.) I've seen Carson's Geryon referred to as "gay," which I guess is literally true, but I wouldn't call this a novel about a gay relationship. The story is so mythical and so centered on individual experience that there's almost no social context for Geryon's sexuality. Some readers may find it challenging to allow a male-male relationship to stand for all human desire, but I believe that is Carson's intention.
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