Saturday, July 17, 2010

Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, by Anne Carson

"It was the year he began to wonder about the noise that colors make. Roses came roaring across the garden at him.
He lay on his bed at night listening to the silver light of stars crashing against the window screen. Most
of those he interviewed for the science project had to admit they did not hear
the cries of the roses
being burned alive in the noonday sun. Like horses, Geryon would say helpfully,
like horses in war."

Autobiography of Red is unlike any book I've every read. As the title suggests, it is a "novel in verse," but don't shy away from it just because it's poetry (and, for some reason, people are afraid of poetry). Don't feel intimidated or "stupid" if you don't get everything...this is a book that demands to be read slowly, and certain parts may be difficult to grasp, but the poetry is very narrative and arranged in a story arc that is easily understood. It is one of those books that is an experience to read, and throughout the book I was continuously reminded of the joy I feel towards the written word. The novel, in fact, could be considered a celebration of the sounds and poetics of words. This short, stunning book re-imagines an ancient Greek epic as a modern coming-of-age story. It is the autobiography of Geryon, a young boy who is a red, winged monster that lives a troubling life. The writing is rich, shocking, raw, and powerful--just read the above excerpt, and you can see how expertly Carson crafts her sentences. The characters are fully realized, coming to life in only a few verses of her pen. I would highly recommend this book, especially for people who like poetry, but want it presented in a more organized way. That being said, I feel that the structure of the book could have been set up a little better, and the pacing could be a little more even.


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