So, it is Autobiography of Red, instead of Nox, that marks my first foray into Carson's poetry and all I can say is. . .wow.
First of all, to understand the subtext you need to dig out good old Edith Hamilton and brush up on your mythology. Geryon is the red monster guarding his herd of cows who Hercules has to kill as part of his tenth labor.
Carson takes these characters and sets them in modern times, but bookends their stories with a look at the fictional translator of the myth, Stesichoros. These Stesichoros chapters show just how much we are missing of the true story, of any true story, and how much we must readjust and fabricate the details we do have to form a cohesive retelling of a tale.
|I secretly have dragon|
wings tucked beneath
my overcoat, too.
No. Not really.
Let me give you a sample of her writing:
His mother stood at the ironing board lighting a cigarette and regarding Geryon.
_____________Outside the dark pink airwas already hot and alive with cries. Time to go to school, she said for the third time.Her cool voice floated over a pile of fresh tea towels and across the shadowy kitchen to where Geryon stood
at the screen door.He would remember when he was past forty the dusty almost medieval smellof the screen itself as it pressed its grid onto his face. She was behind him now. This would be hardfor you if you were weak.but you're not weak, she said and neatened his little red wings and pushed himout the door.
I've smelled that "dusty almost medieval smell of the screen" haven't you? Throughout this entire piece, Carson constantly juxtaposes the common experiences with the surreal, i.e. "she neatened his little red wings."
I wish this were illustrated or had a graphic novel as a companion edition. She really paints pictures with her words and I'd love to see Geryon and his mom (the chain-smoking calls to mind a dragon as she exhales smoke through her nose) and the volcanoes mentioned throughout.
Argh. I need to cough up the money for Nox. Anne Carson is too cool to miss out on.
<I checked this book out from my library.>