Review: Carson’s Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red
Anne Carson

Carson’s masterpiece of dysfunctional families, adolescent angst, love, and heart break as told (kinda, sorta) through an interpretation of the missing fragments of Stesichorus’ Geryoneïs and an imagining of was lost to history.

It’s a strange book. There is a daring translation of some of what remains of Stesichorus’s work, and  and “interview” with Stesichorus. But what makes up the bulk of the book, and what moves you so, is the plight of the central character, the “monster” Geryon and his relationship with the sexy, loving and cruel Herakles.

Geryon is, maybe, literally, a monster.  Or perhaps maybe he is just an abused and damaged teenager. It’s hard to tell. Either way, he loves Herakles in his own fucked up damaged way. And Herakles is careless with that love. You’ve read this story before. But never in this way.

This has been called poetry even for those who do not like poetry. Count me among this group. My tolerance for much of contemporary poetry is very low, but this one blew me away.


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