Book Review

The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson

i'm distracted

In stark contrast to Decreation, which I read last week, Anne Carson’s 2001 “fictional essay in 29 tangos”, The Beauty of the Husband is deeply knowable for a non-Classicist like me, and again reminds me why it is that I consistently tell people, bluntly, that Anne Carson is inarguably the best poet in the world.

If I hadn’t noticed the subtitle-slash-description about fictionality I’ve mentioned above, I would have presumed – as I presume when I read any poetry tbh – that this text was autobiographical.

I’m always disappointed, I suppose, when I feel the potential of a human connection severed; unlike the essays I read last week that were full of analysis and allusion beyond my comprehension (though alongside a narratorial “I” that represented the “real” Carson), in this text there is a graspable “I” (graspable even for me), but that graspable “I” is further from the poet.

That’s OK, though, as the first texts I read and loved by Carson were fictional: Red Doc> and Autobiography of Red.

So, fiction in poetry. Why is this something that… ah… troubles?

Why is it I crave connection, empathetic, strict and uncomplex directness in poetry? I don’t have a social life (kinda by choice): but maybe this lack manifests in the texts I most enjoy, when I yearn to read about people who are kinda like me, when they’re honest and open and confused and conflicted and contradictory about everything except the simple fact that literature matters.

My poetry is never fictional (aside from this snide but not classist piece of “political poetry” I wrote years ago). I-

Shit, lost track of time, I need to go to work.


Christ christ christ so much time has passed. Weeks, literally weeks.

Developments, changes, alterations etc etc etc etc

This book, let’s wrap this up fast as this tab has been sitting open and ignored in my browser for far too long now, is beautiful, moving, articulate but not overbearing.

I was meant to see Anne Carson speak last week, but the event was cancelled via email as my lover and I walked towards the venue from the subway stop.

Anne Carson was poisoned; Anne Carson had food poisoning.

Toronto poisoned Anne Carson. I know the feeling, though rather than gut issues I’ve been doing massive poos since I landed here.

The Beauty of the Husband tells a narrative, about the beginning, the dissolution and the aftermath of a bad marriage. It’s intelligent without being difficult; it’s sad, it’s wise, it’s good.

I read it ages ago. If I was more in control of things then I’d sit down and pull some quotes from it but there’s no point, really. I’m in the midst of a realignment of my medication due to a more formal psychiatric assessment, which I’ll try and write about for money somewhere later in the week, later in the month, later in the year or maybe just later in life.

I’m busy at the moment. Too busy.

I need to book a holiday. I need to work on my sad, indiscreet manuscript that I’ve been working on for ages. I need to edit the Truther Press x Queen Mob’s poo anthology (PLEASE SUBMIT!!!) and I need to reply to all the emails in the Queen Mob’s satire inbox. And I need to do laundry. And I need to catch up on posts on here so I can still feel like I’m positively contributing to my own idea (or ideal!!!) of self. I need to continue doing all the other, constructive, things that I’m doing and-

It’s a lot, it’s all a lot. I need to book a holiday, that more than anything. And I want to read a thousand books and also play Mario.

Eurgh. I’d like to finish reading the massive book I’m currently reading too (there won’t be a post about that for aaaaages lolololololol) but I don’t think that’ll happen tonight. Or tomorrow.

I feel very very very strange from the reduced medication dose I’m on for a week before I introduce a different drug then.

Right. I’m gonna go. I will cook a risotto. And maybe try and bang out another one of these inarticulate posts before bedtime. I feel better about myself for filling a webpage with meaningless prose than I do for not doing so.

Bye bye bye sorry sorry sorry is 10 years old! Celebrate by sharing this post – or others – with friends (if you have any), family (if you have any), lovers (which I presume you have because this website isn’t for children), or by donating to the site via the below link so that I can maybe take a day off work some time and enjoy being alive for a few hours.

2 comments on “The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson

  1. You converted me to Anne Carson with your review of Decreation which I read & liked. I’ve bought Plainwater (is it?) and that’s next. Wasn’t sure about the dragon one, cos I hate everything and anything to do with mythic symbols, the dragon being top of my hit list. But I’ve only heard good things so maybe I can be persuaded.


  2. Pingback: POETRY MONTH: poetry reviews from the vaults – Triumph Of The Now

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