Autobiography of Red

by Anne Carson
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How can I write a reader response for Autobiography of Red?

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Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red has a lot going on in a very small space. It's a novel, but it's also written entirely in verse, which means it can also be thought of as one long poem or as a series of separate poems with a related plot.

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Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red has a lot going on in a very small space. It's a novel, but it's also written entirely in verse, which means it can also be thought of as one long poem or as a series of separate poems with a related plot.

Because Autobiography of Red is so packed with imagery, events, and meaning, writing a reader response to the entire book can be tough: There are so many things you could say about the entire work that you might end up saying nothing at all.

For this reason, I highly recommend picking one or two of the poems/chapters that stood out to you. Write about why those stood out to you, then write about their context in the piece as a whole.

For instance, maybe you were grabbed right away by the prologue, "Red Meat: What Difference Did Stesichoros Make?" and found that looking at the rest of the book from the perspective of "undoing the latches" between adjectives and nouns let you see the story in a new way. Or maybe you can't stop being annoyed about poem/chapter 12, "Fruit Bowl," because it seems like it shouldn't even be in the story.

When a text does as much as Autobiography of Red does, zooming on a particular poem, passage, or phrase that stood out to you can help you focus your response. Start with your response to that part (how does it make you feel? what other reading/media does it remind you of? does it trigger any memories for you?). Then, you can talk about that response in the context of the book as a whole (did you love this part and hate the rest, or vice versa? was this the moment you felt you really understood Geryon or Herakles? and so on).

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