Red Doc>

Knopf. 2013. 160p. notes. ISBN 9780307960580. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307960597. POETRY
OrangeReviewStarG, the winged, red, child monster Geryon, whose story was given a modern retelling in Carson's Autobiography of Red, is now grown up. His friend Sad But Great (usually called Sad) is emotionally damaged by war. Together with the prickly Ida, "filled with/ mood like a very tough/ experimental baby," they launch on a startling picaresque unlike anything one might have read or imagined one might want to read. As the book-length poem opens, G is living alone in a hut, tending a herd of musk oxen. Perhaps he finds comfort in the herd's steady animal energy, because "memory is exhausting" (though "To stand in time with your/ back to the future your/ face to the past what a/ relief"). Given the contradictions, it seems best to keep moving, and soon G and Sad are journeying from a glacier's "dirty ice" to an attempted robbery to a clinic where Sad is treated, with Ida chasing after them.
VERDICT Narrow-gauge prose poems alternate with strung-together conversation and moody, archaic intervals from the "Wives of Brain," but the real inventiveness is the oddly engaging, oddly distancing story told in fragments that don't want to end in a moral. Not for conventional readers but essential reading for poetry sophisticates.
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