Knopf. Oct. 2016. 272p. ISBN 9781101946848. $30. POETRY
After surprising readers with Nox, a boxed, foldout elegy for her deceased brother, Carson continues to challenge the monograph's linear confines with this set of 23 separately bound chapbooks that may be read in any order. Here, one finds an absurdist revision of Euripides's Bacchae, theatrically staged memoirs, list poems, essays on silence and translation, a sonnet sequence, "lyric lectures"—in short, a menagerie of literary variations, violations, and mashups built to resist generic assumptions ("New wind every day./ Life is pushing back"). Still, all of the pieces are rooted in the deep erudition, sleuthlike curiosity ("If words are veils, what do they hide?"), and surreal humor ("All of his wives arrive as tall trees") that mark Carson's unique voice regardless of the medium through which she speaks.
VERDICT The sheer assortment of work invites mixed reactions from one piece to another, and the boxed format may present shelving issues, but it's difficult to resist marveling at the range of challenges and rewards presented.
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