Red Doc>

by Anne Carson

Autobiography of Red is my favorite book in the world. There’s a very good chance it’s my favorite thing in the world. And this book, Red Doc>, is the sequel to it. So you would think I’d love this book by default then, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. But this book is very, very different than Autobiography. The characters are the same — three of them, anyway — although they’ve changed their names, presumably to symbolize the great passing of time that’s happened between the books. And a lot of time has passed — this is not the young Geryon from before, nor is Herakles the same. But that’s okay.

Or is it? I dunno. The book has what you expect from Carson — lines that punch you in the gut with their newness, their insight, their beauty — but it doesn’t have any of what drew me most to Autobiography. I don’t care too much about the characters here; in fact, I care about them only insofar as they are characters I loved back in Auto. All the passion, the curiosity, the introspection of Geryon is gone. His relationships are relationships in name only, not dynamics. The narrative — and there is a narrative, despite what so many other reviews say — is disjointed, sometimes unclear.

I wanted a lot from this book, and I didn’t get it. The best part comes late in the book, from the actions of a musk ox on a cliff. You’ll know it when you get there. It doesn’t make up for what’s missing here, but it makes the disappointment a little less biting.

Why I Finished:

I wanted to see if Geryon and Herakles get back together. They don’t. I was mad.