Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart. Only award-winning poet Anne Carson could create a work that takes on the oldest of lyrical subjects–love–and make it this powerful, this fresh, this devastating.
“In the world of people who keep up with contemporary poetry, Anne Carson has been cutting a large swath, inciting both envy and admiration. . . . I don’t think there had been a book since Robert Lowell’s Life Studies that has advanced the art of poetry as radically as Anne Carson is in the process of doing. Carson’s peers might bristle at the grandness of her ambition [but] it seems to me that there is only one relevant question to be posed about her writing. What her fellow poets would do well to ask themselves is not whether what Carson is writing can or cannot be called poetry, but how has she succeeded in making it–whatever label you give it–so thrillingly new?”—Daphne Merkin, New York Times Book Review
“Brilliantly captured . . . Reading her is to experience a euphonious, mystical sort of perplexity . . . punctuated by what the husband himself calls ‘short blinding passages,’ which in this book consist of moments of almost unbearable poignancy. . . . We read conversations that show the unbridgeable distance and unbreakable intimacy of the lovers, caught in the dance of beauty and destruction, at the same time. . . . In a few swiftly cut lines, her 29 tangos, Ms. Carson tells what might be seen as a pedestrian love story: a marriage, a divorce, a sad life left behind. But there is nothing pedestrian about the way her verse pierces the mind with a laserlike light.” —Richard Bernstein, New York Times
“This poet’s voice is so strange, so unique, so wholly her own that it seems a paradox that she already has such a wide audience. And the message of her seventh book is another paradox: that sexuality–both the body’s intellect and the mind’s desire–is thinking.”–Talk (Talk 10 list, March)
“Impressive. . . . [Carson’s] references to or quotes from the likes of Homer and Jane Austen and Beckett are kept in a vibrant present with infusions of a jazzy language that has come to define our age and our relationships. . . . With swift strokes depicting the illusions and disillusions of a marriage gone sour, Carson has managed to make the intellectual life hip. In her hands, a quote from Plato seems as natural as a pop reference. . . . Then there are the lines of sheer lyricism, lines that send us spinning back to idea of beauty, of truth. . . . This new work, while resembling poetry, still has that edge, that charming threat of becoming at any moment something other than what we expect. . . . A single light does not illuminate this volume. It is as though individual candles were strategically placed throughout the length of the marriage, highlighting essential moments. . . . The Beauty of the Husband is an essential song, fully aware of all the perils and brave enough to play itself out.”–Dionisio D. Martinez, Miami Herald
“In Carson’s most welcoming and intimate work to date, she loosens the robes of erudition that cloaked Men in the Off Hours in an aura of wry intellectualism. Here the tango provides inspiration for lashingly precise yet sultry and graceful poems that depict the eroticism and possessiveness, competition and resentment of a marriage in dissolution, a process envisioned as both an elaborate dance and vicious warfare....With Keats as her touchstone, Carson—audacious, funny, poised, and extraordinarily smart—considers our often contradictory needs for beauty and love....[A] piquant inquiry into the nature of desire far beyond familiar parameters.”—Booklist
“[T]hough she spangles her work with the costume jewelry of literary and historical allusion, challenging the reader with ... puzzles, [Anne Carson] also evinces a rare grasp of emotional chemistry. This ‘fictional essay’ on marriage and adultery...cuts more truly, more deeply than any plain-spoken confessional monolog, dramatizing inner and outer conflict with a precise, knowing wit. . . . Rooted in a literary consciousness at once Romantic and ironic, this is as fresh and compelling a poetic treatment of a familiar subject as one is likely to find in any century.”—Library Journal