Red doc>

by Anne Carson

Hardcover, 2013

Status

Available

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Publication

New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

Description

A continuation of the author's Autobiography of red (1998), following the characters in later life, but in a different style and with changed names.

User reviews

LibraryThing member williecostello
Earlier this year, I read Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red for the first time and loved it (see my review further up in this thread). So it was a great joy (and surprise) when I learned that this book's sequel (of sorts) was set to come just months later (though admittedly, it has been 15 years since the publication of Autobiography).

As others have noted, Red Doc> is strikingly different from Autobiography -- darker, less lyrical, somehow even more opaque. The ecstasy of love that permeated the pages of Autobiography has been replaced with the pain of existence. But the more sombre tone fits the more sombre subject matter: life (or lack thereof) after myth. If this doesn't sound like much fun, you'd be right, and you'd do well to avoid the book. But if you know what you're getting into and want to get into it, Carson is a more than capable guide.

The plot of Red Doc> is meandering and confusing at the best of times, and I'm not going to pretend that I actually understood this novel in verse. But there is something undeniably engrossing and bewitching about it. Carson's poetry has always been the main draw of her work, and though the language of Red Doc> doesn't sparkle or shine, it does exert an ineffable force on its reader -- a pull that will be drawing me back and back again in the future for sure.
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LibraryThing member JWarren42
What I've come to expect from Carson is poetry that strikes like lightning in not only its meaning, but arrangement, and connection to mythology. While meaning stays a strongpoint in this work, the brilliance of arrangement is gone--almost all the works are arranged into a centered column that grew tedious very quickly. The connection to mythology is also all but gone, instead there are connections to Proust and a Russian author that I (and I suspect many who will read the book) have never heard of before. Finally, I wanted that intimate connection with Geryon once more-- instead, the work focuses primarily on other minor characters that, to be honest, I don't care about even half as much. The book has some utterly devastating as well as slyly funny moments, but not enough to justify buying it. Check this one out from the library, instead.… (more)
LibraryThing member antao
(Original Review, April 10th 2013)

Look at the Pulitzer Prize. For whatever reason, it's highly regarded in America and it chooses novels (among all other kinds of works in its many categories) that are clearly literary, accessible to almost anyone, but infused with a seriousness and thoughtfulness that enriches the experience beyond the lighter pleasures of an airport thriller. “A Visit From The Goon Squad”, contrary to how that book was (understandably) marketed, wasn't actually that "new" or "innovative" in its linked story narrative (except for a chapter in PowerPoint, rendered with exquisite poignancy, and the multitude of registers and styles employed for each story) but it was nonetheless an incredible accomplishment in economic evocation of how we experience time passing over a lifetime and the interplay between this and music and technology and love, in all its iterations. But it's also a page-turner. And it's not an outlier. Less, this year's winner, "The Underground Railroad", "The Sympathiser", and many others, are all easy reads. That's just the Pulitzer. Even the Nobel committee, last year, awarded the prize to K. Ishiguro, a writer whose work is both popular and literary and not remotely "difficult".

As far as difficult books go, I think of Anne Carson's red doc>. It is, like all of her books, unclassifiable - but in a way that is antithetical to the chapbooks of extremely thin angry vegan poets in Brooklyn, which is to say, "Red doc>" consists only of one type of punctuation mark (full stop) (except for one exquisite use of the comma), the text is mostly laid out in a single column that is centre justified (i.e. a pillar of text in the centre of the page), the dialogue is very stripped back and washed of colour, the story is filled with extremely strange things (ice bats, a chief medical officer working at a clinic inside a glacier, a guy who is plagued by a 15 second foresight) and absolutely none of it reads like gimmick. It's an exploration of what happens when life kind of hollows out in early middle age and two former lovers mutely bump into each other after years of absence and silence. It's about how lives are just shards and fragments, pathetically incomplete, and the visual and technical constructions amplify the power of her words and storytelling immeasurably. I think it's a joy to read.
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