Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nox by Anne Carson

Nox by Anne Carson is . . .

Well, therein lies the problem.  What this book "is" goes beyond anything I can formulate into words.

Carson gathers the ephemera of her brother's life into an accordion folded book, nicely boxed so that you can either flip the pages or pull the whole thing out and unfold the scroll of what she is trying to say.

How she says it . . . this is where the words begin to falter.  There are a few visual images that speak volumes.  Clippings from lexicologic texts that seem to be literally torn from the pages of academic texts.  Things are taped down or glued in place, wrinkled or neatly folded.  And scattered here and there are Carson's own poetic words, rhetorical questions interspersed with sparse memories of a brother who was barely known and now is gone forever.

Part scrapbook, part puzzle, the reader is left to find meaning without being given any answers.  At least no easy answers and in some ways this says so much more about relationships than anything else because as Carson tries to understand the how and why of her brother and her relationship to him she exposes the fragile quality of the threads the define family.

I would urgently recommend this book to anyone and everyone but I know and regret that most people will not read this with the same awe I experienced and might even question whether this is literature at all. It is.  Literature.  Brilliant.  Inspired.  Inspiring.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Men in the Off Hours by Anne Carson

Men in the Off Hours by Anne Carson is a poetry and prose collection by the brilliant and always scholarly writer with whom I have fallen in love but I'm afraid that with this book the love affair has come to an end.  I love poetry and I appreciate the subjectivity of appreciation that poetry seems to inspire. My line of appreciation ends with stupidity.  If a poem makes me feel stupid, no matter how brilliant it may be, no matter how very much I may admire the poet, I just fall away from the content and feel nothing.

Or maybe the problem is that the only thing I feel is foolish, too uneducated to "get it" or to understand the metaphor and imagery or somehow unworthy of entering the hallowed halls of some elite meaning that simply eludes me.  As I said to my mother, "The problem is when I read poetry like this I'm thinking I know these words, I understand these words, so I feel stupid when what I am reading doesn't make any f***ing sense to me."

Yes, I kiss my mother with that mouth.  And frankly, it pisses me off that I have loved so much of what Carson offers and hit such a solid wall that I was hard pressed to find even one piece I wanted to share.  So, as usual with a collection of poetry that is so dense as to leave me in the dark, I am choosing a poem that I found most accessible.  I don't think I am too stupid to understand her poetry but I'm not sure I want to take a college course just to understand a poem, you know?

With that said, the prose pieces are eloquent and maybe the bloom is off the rose but I still love Carson's writing.  I may just have to stick with her prose and let someone smarter than I appreciate her poetry.

Father's Old Blue Cardigan
by Anne Carson

Now it hangs on the back of the ktichen chair
where I always sit, as it did
on the back of the kitchen chair where he always sat.

I put it on whenever I come in,
as he did, stamping
the snow from his boots.

I put it on and sit in the dark.
We would not have done this.
Coldness comes paring down from the moonbone in the sky.

His laws were a secret.
But I remember the moment at which I knew
he was going mad inside his laws.

He was standing at the turn of the driveway when I arrived.
He had on the blue cardigan withthe buttons done up all the way to tthe top.
Not only because it was a hot July afternoon

but the look on his face--
as a small child who has been dressed by some aunt early in the morning
for a long trip

on cold trains and windy platforms
will sit very straight at the edge of his seat
while the shadows like long fingers

over the haystacks that sweep past
keep shocking him
because he is riding backwards.

And another one bites the dust

Remember this post?

Well, guess what stopped working yesterday?

I don't feel well enough to deal with another coffee maker death.  Thank goodness I didn't get rid of my French press and thank goodness twice over I had the sense not to put it up too high or too far away to be easily reached.

It's really hard to shift gears when you aren't even awake yet let alone when when you are dizzy.  Sheesh!