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Autobiography of Red Paperback – July 27, 1999
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A little button at the end of each range activated the fluorescent track above it.No novelist could have gotten away with that last line. Yet it's very much to the point: Carson's Geryon is, among other things, a camera freak who doesn't understand that an observer must inevitably alter the nature of the thing observed. Here is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, cheek-by-jowl with the ancients! And indeed, Carson's achievement is to interweave the archaic and the modern so seamlessly that by the time we finish reading Autobiography of Red, the entire landscape looks inside out. --Mark Rudman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A yellowing 5 x 7 index card
Scotch-taped below each button said EXTINGUISH LIGHT WHEN NOT IN USE.
Geryon went flickering
through the ranges like a bit of mercury flipping the switches on and off.
The librarians thought him
a talented boy with a shadow side.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is written in poetic free verse, and Ann Carson's style is nothing less than magical. It might seem difficult for readers accustomed to straightforward prose, but if one lets the words wash over them, their meaning will all be clear soon enough, and their beauty alone will convince the reader of their merit. The story is based on Greek myth, but rather than Herakles killing Geryon the monster literally, he "kills" by breaking his heart. Ultimately, the book's message seems to be that Geryon must learn to love himself first. The book is beautifully written, and cannot be recommended highly enough, to any reader who wants to read a delicate story in a challenging format.
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.
For those unfamiliar with the classics, Stesichoros was a Sicilian Greek of the early classical era. Although little of his poetry has survived, we do know it was famous for both its extreme sweetness and its grandeur.
In Carson's modern version of the Geryon myth, Herakles doesn't murder Geryon and steal his magic red cattle; he steals his heart instead. And in Carson's version, the theft of the heart may be quite a bit worse than outright murder, for, rather than dying outright, Geryon dies a little each day and his suffering is thus prolonged and made all the more difficult to endure.
Since this is a present-tense, postmodern tale, Geryon doesn't, however, suffer in silence. He attempts, instead, as a young school boy (though still red and still winged--he presents his teacher with the myth of Geryon as his own autobiography), to create a new world and a new life for himself through his camera lens and through the redemptive qualities of his art. In this way, Geryon's demons are transformed through eroticism and become, if not something of beauty, then something that is, at least, worthwhile.
Although this prose/poetry work is witty and playful, Carson's Geryon is still quite sad. Herakles is so definitely male and he loves Geryon in a stereotypically male manner, i.e., without really knowing the object of his love. Herakles seems out to have a good time and that is that. Although Geryon is red to his core, Herakles knows him so little that he even dreams of him in yellow. This upsets Geryon to the point of torment, who thinks, "Even in dreams he doesn't know me at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A beautifully constructed, lyrical story that explores identity and marginalization. Absolutely found myself enthralled from the first moment. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Keavy Handley-Byrne
Strange at first, but if you can make past the first few pages you will find your self in a great story, written in a very peculiar way.Published 1 month ago by Flora Nunes Aleixo
Couldn't finish this book. It just didn't grab me. I was bored and more bored.Published 3 months ago by Moxie
Indeed a different story. I found this short book impossible to put down and the play on words made is a "read it again" story. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Laura Harrison
Hmm, what can I say really. I guess i suspect I missed something...
Also, what did I just spend money on and read?
best book ive ever read. inventive, smart, heartbreaking, funny, thought provoking and so different from anything ive experienced that it feels new with every re-read.Published 4 months ago by George Eliot
A book club section. Weird, but the author is undeniably brilliant and creative.Published 5 months ago by edincalifornia
Beautifully written and extremely visual wording. Hint of a love story is the cherry on top.Published 8 months ago by Luann McCaffrey