Men in the Off Hours

by Anne Carson

Hardcover, 2000





New York : Knopf, 2000.


Following her widely acclaimed Autobiography of Red ('a spellbinding achievement' - Susan Sontag): a new collection of poetry and prose that displays Anne Carson's intoxicating mixture of opposites - the classic and the modern, cinema and print, narrative and verse. In Men in the Off Hours, Carson re-invents figures as diverse as Oedipus, Emily Dickinson and Audubon. She views the writings of Sappho, St Augustine and Catullus through a modern lens. She sets up startling juxtapositions (Lazarus among video paraphernalia; Virginia Woolf and Thucydides discussing war). And, in a final prose poem, she meditates on the recent death of her mother. With its quiet, acute spirituality, its fearless wit and sensuality, and its joyful understanding that 'the fact of the matter for humans is imperfection', Men in the Off Hours is profound, provocative and unforgettable.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member wiremonkey
This book of poems actually took me months to read, as I would read one or two only a day. I have to admit, I feel unequal to the task of reviewing such a heady work of poetry.

What can I say? I did much more than enjoy it. I savoured it. Her spartan imagery, her hard-ass, no-nonsense view of the
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world appeals greatly to me. I would love to do with words what she can do. I would also like to one day own such a sharp and biting wit, but I suspect I would have to be a different person for that. She also seems to have the same preoccupation with Anna Akhmatova that I do (I suspect she read the same wonderful biography of the poet) and wrote about Tolstoy when I am writing about Tolstoy (for fun and kicks and without knowing a damn thing about the man that is how presumptuous I am). Also, the essay at the end about the way the Greeks viewed women was especially fascinating. When I get home I will persue the volume and give a little sample of her poems here, so you don't have to rely on this inadequate account.

(I am home now and just opened the book. This is what I found...)

Caeli Lesbia Nostra Lesbia Illa (Our Lesbia that Lesbia)
Catullus finds his own love gone to others

Nuns coated in silver were not so naked
As our night interviews.
Now what plum is your tongue
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
I love Anne Carson because she writes whatever the hell suits her with a playful and haughty imagination. Men in the Off Hours draws more explicitly on her work with ancient Greek and felt both restrained and didactic at times, which felt a tad heavy handed. Yet there are some wonderful pieces,
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particularly her pairing of Hopper and Augustine and Thucydides and Woolf.
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