Last week I was lucky enough to see Anne Carson do a reading at the New York Public Library. Her new novel Red Doc> is confoundingly good. It's the first I've read of Carson and I'm amazed at her ability to create something so familiar and empathetic that is rooted so deeply in classicism. "G" (short for Geryon, a mythical creature) is the protagonist of Red Doc> (if a book like this can even have a protagonist), and while he may be a winged, red monster he also has human, deep relationships with people, art, and memories. Here's an image of Geryon as he appears in Gustave Doré's edition of Dante's Inferno:
Weirdly enough, where I currently am in the book, G and his associate (a character named Sad) drive north to explore some flat ice-scapes that I imagine look like the glorious cover of Red Doc>. Unfortunately I can't maintain Carson's lovely columns of text on this blog, but here's a scene (and an accompanying image of the book):
"CROWS AS BIG as a barns rave overhead. Still driving north. Night is a slit all day is white. Panels of torn planet loom and line up one behind the other to the far edge of what eyes can see. Just ice says Sad. He opens a window and a sea fog pours in. They are passing a beach. Black chunks of lava pile on tangles of black seawrack. Waves tower and smash. White foam explodes upward. Stop if we see seals says G but Sad appears not to hear."
Carson's reading at NYPL was fantastic: she read from Red Doc> as well as a fascinating new 59-paragraph "essay" on Proust that she explained was written by G during his "withdrawl" from finally finishing À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. As I was getting my book signed, I noticed the Proust essay was entirely handwritten, as if she whipped it together over lunch that day like some eccentric genius.
Red Doc> by Anne Carson
Currently listening to:
"Push the Sky Away" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds