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Nox Hardcover – April 27, 2010

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In order to discuss Carson's latest work—a foldout, Jacob's ladder collage of letters, photographs, and poetry, all housed in a beautiful box—one must first address its resistance to being addressed. Rather, what Carson does (and with furious precision) is impress upon us her grief over a life she cannot recapture—for Carson, this life is her brother's, for whom this collection is both an elegy and a history. What results is a work of astonishing candor, in which Carson manages to define the elegy anew by exploring the lacunae of her brother's life. It is when you are asking about something, she writes, that you realize you have survived it, and so you must carry it, or fashion it into a thing that carries itself. Carson accomplishes just that, creating a physical record of a life in the form of a book that allows its fragments to carry her brother's absence. To call this art object extraordinary—more than a book, it's a reproduction of a scroll Carson made by hand—would be to understate. What Carson has given us is an act of devotion of such integrity that it carries its grief on its back. (Apr.)
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“Carson has . . . created an individual form and style for narrative verse. . . . Seldom has Pound’s injunction ‘Make It New’ been so spectacularly obeyed.” — The New York Review of Books

“Anne Carson is a poet who likes to get under people’s skin.” — Melanie Rehak (The New York Times Magazine)

“Rarely has forking over thirty dollars felt like such a solemn act of memorial.” — New York Review of Books

“’s intelligence, sadness, and wry humor alone might be enough, but its form takes me even more. To read is sensual. You handle the folds, opening one winged pair at a time or in quick, slinky unfurlings. And this read is not linear, with pages dissolving behind you as you turn, but spatial, more like letting your eyes wander a room. With the whole book unfurled you see it entire and make links among images, like a staircase or an egg that reappear folds apart, and among words like ash, festive, blush. You prowl the book itself.” — The Millions

“She is one of the few writers writing in English that I would read anything she wrote.” — Susan Sontag

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Slp edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811218708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811218702
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living. Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the MacArthur "Genius" Award.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Emily Whitman on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"No matter how I try to evoke the starry lad he was, it remains a plain, odd history."

More an experience than a read, "Nox" by Anne Carson splices abstraction--definitions, quotations, lessons in ancient Greek history--with the concrete specificity of family photographs, handwritten letters, and personal recollections that attempt to contain a fragile and fragmented relationship. Carson's brother, who led a transitory and difficult life, has died in Copenhagen. And now Carson, in the manner of Catallus (poem 101), must go to see her brother's widow, the city where he lived, and the church he was brought to when he died. In words and images, and in words as images, Carson creates a landscape that mirrors memory--a continuous accordion-folded page that backdrops black and white snapshots, yellowing letters, cancelled stamps, and cut-out text. Most striking are the photos that include shadows, and texts that Carson repeats, strikes out, or blurs. Also haunting is the way this collage seems so very real on the reproduced page: edges of paper-on-paper look sharp and true, or wrinkled from too much glue; staples seem raised, shiny and cold; even the reverse-embossing of handwriting forces this reader to touch and expect to feel the raised imprint of a ball-point pen, as if, in feeling, the question is asked: is this real?

Carson explains, "History and elegy are akin." In questioning, "are these staples real?" or "who was this brother?" we share in the act of asking, of composing the story and creating history. In her distilled and disjointed--yet accessible--way, Carson compels questions, collects facts--or shards of them--and assembles a beautiful, tactile, white-space filled elegy that honors a brother who, later in life, she barely knew.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Meerschaum on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Stunning. Carson is a poet and classicist who is truly sui generis. Her new work, Nox, is a scrapbook of pictures, drawings, stamps, scribbles, anecdotes and definitions of the words comprising Catullus' poem No. 101 ("for his brother who died in the Troad") that coalesce into a profoundly haunting, moving and surprisingly vulnerable elegy for the poet's brother. Ignore the obnoxious and narrow minded poetic purists, such as Robert Potts, who deride Carson's work as "doggerel". Her unique and eclectic voice is a breath of fresh air in a medium too often stifled by orthodoxy.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Ross on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an astonishing work. To speak cursorily, the work begins with a latin poem of Catullus' and then goes on to provide a dictionary translation of each word over its course, with anecdotes and pictures interspersed throughout either abstractly or explicitly depicting her mother and more often her brother. Her goal, I suspect, is to show the plurality of language, and the numerous possibilities for any word and thus the infinite possibilities should they be put side by side and reified in another language. As she says "the luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of [words] that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page you were trying to translate" will appear when attempting to translate. When she finally does translate the poem, it is evasive, inexact, and, most importantly, entirely subjective. Just as we (at least in Northrop Frye's estimation) create works anew in our mind, so does she, concretely, in transmutating Catullus' words to English and Carson's grasp thereon. The book ends, finally, with her translation more vividly rendered inefficient in a bleeding, crumpled fragment (a rip at the top, its medium reasserted at the bottom of the page; that is, a blank piece of paper concluding the book) expressing her inability to translate that original poem and thus asking us to individualize the poem in her directed latin lesson constituting the work.

This is not an easy work to understand, and, as one previous reviewer said, it is not, in the conventional sense, a 'book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Denae on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Though intensely personal, sometimes to the point where I felt excluded from the text, Nox is a very beautiful and artfully wrought book. This is the future of printed books--detailed, meaningful, and one of a kind. Carson has a natural way with words, and her juxtaposition of definitions and her personal reflections creates a nice resonance that is unique from her poetry and essays. I highly recommend this book, but those looking for straight verse or a unified plot line might not appreciate it.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By tola on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work is quite perplexing. In some ways it is magnificent, but in other ways it may fail your expectations - depending on what you are expecting. Rather than giving just one rating, I'd prefer to give the book several ratings:
Book as physical and visual artwork: 5 out of 5
Book as conceptual poetry: 4 out of 5
Book as traditional novel: 2 out of 5

Personally I loved to skim the book randomly, but to read it trough from cover to cover (as I eventually did) was clearly not the best way to enjoy this book, at least for me. The fragmented memories of his brother were at times touching and full of complex emotions. The repeating definitions of latin words were a bit tiresome at times, but still quite educative and hence interesting.

I would say that this book is at its best as an experimental poetic artwork and surely is an unique and at times touching curiosity on any book-lovers shelve. But don't approach the book as a traditional novel - there it will fail you.
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