The Autobiography of Red


Goodreads Synopsis: The award-winning poet Anne Carson reinvents a genre in Autobiography of Red, a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present.

Geryon, a young boy who is also a winged red monster, reveals the volcanic terrain of his fragile, tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at the age of five. As he grows older, Geryon escapes his abusive brother and affectionate but ineffectual mother, finding solace behind the lens of his camera and in the arms of a young man named Herakles, a cavalier drifter who leaves him at the peak of infatuation. When Herakles reappears years later, Geryon confronts again the pain of his desire and embarks on a journey that will unleash his creative imagination to its fullest extent. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is.

I was interested to read this book because of a character who mentions it in the TV show The L Word.  And then once when I looked the book up I became even more fascinated with it, as it’s a mixing of poetry and prose.

Autobiography of Red was not exactly what I was expecting. The story took a different turn and the characters were not quite what I had idealized them to be.  I feel bad that this book ended up being 3 stars for me, I had wanted it to be 5.

That’s not to say this isn’t a good book. It is. The writing is magnificent, the story compelling, the characters unique. It’s just not a great book. It’s not something  that blew my mind. It’s more quiet. The tendrils of the story creep in your mind slowly.  I feel that I might like it more if I read it again in a few years.

Has anyone else read Autobiography of Red? Let me know if you have and what you thought of it!


  1. I ended up liking The Autobiography of Red a lot, but I agree, it definitely isn’t what I was expecting! I ended up giving it 4 stars because I thought Carson’s verse was gorgeous, but there was something about it that felt a little incomplete. I’m looking forward to seeing how she continues the story in Red Doc>.

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