Posts Tagged ‘Anne Carson’

Some Fiction From the First Decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) That is Too Good to be Forgotten


Below are ten works of fiction from the early 2000s all about which I became enthusiastic and which led me to put these writers in my Must-Read category.


‘The Other Side of You’ by Salley Vickers (2006) – Salley Vickers connects the great works of art, in this case the art of Caravaggio, with the conscious daily lives of her characters in a compelling way. Her novels are definitely literary, yet are as light as a soufflé.




‘Ludlow’ by David Mason (2007) – Here is a novel-in-verse but not with the subject matter you would expect for a novel in verse. The coal miners of Ludlow, Colorado go on strike in 1914, one of the cruelest, bloodiest chapters in the history of American labor. The verse novel strategy works brilliantly to describe scenes that are not always pretty.


‘The Beauty of the Husband’ – A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos by Anne Carson (2001) – In lyrical lines that suggest the movements of tango dancers, Carson describes scenes from a doomed marriage. This is a modern take on the intimate cruelties of marriage.

Three minutes of reality

All I ever asked

She stands looking out at rain on the roof.”

‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai (2006) – I read much of the work of her mother Anita Desai, and daughter Kiran Desai carries on brilliantly. ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ has depth, emotion, hilarity, and imagination; what more can you ask for?. But why hasn’t Kiran Desai published any fiction since 2006?




‘The Known World’ by Edward P. Jones (2003) – By focusing on a black slave owner, Edward P. Jones avoids turning this novel into a morality play of good and evil. There is no one preaching. The matter-of-fact tone only intensifies the reader’s reaction to this story.




‘Black Swan Green’ by David Mitchell (2006) – This is David Mitchell’s lightest most engaging novel, and it is my favorite of his work.

These jokes the world plays, they’re not funny at all.”




‘Gilgamesh’ by Joan London (2001) – A teenage woman and her young child take an amazing trip from rural Western Australia to Armenia and back. This is a blunt and beautifully written novel that deals with life’s tough truths.





‘John Henry Days’ by Colson Whitehead (2001) – Even before ‘Underground Railroad’, Colson Whitehead wrote wonderful novels. This novel is more humorous and thus more fun for me than ‘Underground Railroad’. Sometimes it seems writers lose their lightness as they get older.



‘Lush Life’ by Richard Price (2008) – Richard Price is the excellent writer of novels that take place on the streets of New York. He lived in a housing project as a child and knows all about the city street life. He has branched out to writing for TV and the movies, but I have followed his written fiction from the beginning.




‘How the Light Gets In’ by M. J. Hyland (2004) In 2004, M. J. Hyland was the new female novelist who burst on the scene with this her first wonderful novel and got much of the attention and some awards. After reading this novel and her next, ‘Carry Me Down’, I put her in my must-read category. However she has not published a novel since 2009.



Generosity’ by Richard Powers (2009) – A likable and passionate novel about the search for happiness and the Happiness gene. And you thought our state of mind was the result of happy or sad events in our lives?


Happy Reading!

‘Antigo Nick’ by Sophokles – A Spiky Irreverent Translation of the Ancient Greek Tragedy Antigone


‘Antigo Nick’ by Sophokles (441 BC) – 44 pages Translated by Anne Carson

This is not you grandma’s translation of Antigone.

Anne Carson does not approach this ancient drama with undue reverence. King Kreon arrives on the scene riding in his powerboat, his ship of state. The translation of the ancient play alludes to Samuel Becket, Berthold Brecht, Virginia Woolf and others. And the words of the play are turned into spiky even whimsical mostly unpuncuated modern prose.

but of course there is hope look here comes hope

wandering in

to tickle your feet

then you notice your soles are on fire

a wise word

if evil looks good to you

some god is heading you on the high road to ruin”

But I’ve learned to trust the Canadian Anne Carson.

Words bounce. Words, if you let them will do what they want to do and what they have to do.” – Anne Carson

Carson knows what she is doing, especially with these ancient plays. I have read a lot of her poems and other stuff, most of it unclassifiable and brilliant.

For someone who is just beginning to discover Anne Carson, I would recommend two of her works, ‘Autobiography in Red: A Novel in Verse’ and ‘The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos’.

I watched a performance of ‘Antigo Nick’ with Anne Carson playing the role of ‘Chorus’ on You Tube as well as read the play. ‘Antigo Nick’ is probably not the first place to begin to discover Anne Carson, but even with the translation’s quirkiness it captures the spirit of the play.

Here is the set-up of the play. The two brothers of Antigone and Ismenes have fought on opposite sides in the Thebes civil war and now both are dead. King Kreon has ruled that one brother Eteokles will be honored and given a full burial; the other brother Polyneikes will lie unburied on the battlefield and be prey to scavenging birds and worms. Antigone on her own decides to bury Polyneikes against the King’s wishes. The King finds out about it and decides that Antigone must be buried alive as punishment for her disobedience.

It’s Friday afternoon

there goes Antigone to be buried alive

is there

any way

we can say

this is normal



or even in the widest definition just

no not really

If I can convince even one person to investigate the work of Anne Carson, I will feel I have accomplished a great deal.

I write to find out what I think about something.” – Anne Carson

Not knowing what one is doing is no prohibition on doing it. We all grope ahead.” – Anne Carson


Grade: A-


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