How and where did you access it?
I found the book in a bookshop on Broadway Market.
How did it make you feel?
It was the first book that I'd read that explored a homosexual relationship without using the word gay. It was just a relationship, and that actually meant loads to me. The narrative follows Geryon (who is a red winged monster and whose literary history, from Homer to Dante, is negative) as a teen struggling with identity, but he feels so hard and is so soulful that it's contagious. In mythical history, Geryon is slain by Herakles in one of his labours, but here Herakles is a lover - he becomes just as destructive, but in other ways. The combination of something being so innovative and modern (it was written in the 1990s but feels more progressive than now), yet historically full of millennia made me feel both insignificant and part of something much larger than me, and I loved it. It went deeper than any book I'd read before (let alone the delicate, beautiful and hard-hitting emotion throughout the text) and made a mark on my identity unlike anything before or since.
Did you share it?
It was part of my university syllabus, so we all discussed the book. During that week's seminar, I felt like there was so much of it that we didn't touch on, so much of the feeling that wasn't really mentioned - only the surface narrative. It meant so much to me that I couldn't really bring myself to pipe up and pour my heart out in front of the whole room, so I kept schtum. For that module (titled 'Myth'), we were assessed through group presentations, and again, my group didn't seem to be as affected by the Autobiography as I was, so we barely mentioned in it our presentation. When it came to the end of university and writing my dissertation, it was my chance to get personal so I focussed it on the book. Even after unpicking it and spending so much time with it, it remains my favourite book. I think that says a lot.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about it?
Like most of Anne Carson's work, it is pretty undefinable. Despite the name, it's not an autobiography (or is it?). It's subtitle is 'A Novel in Verse', so it crosses the boundary of prose and poetry. It's fragmented yet full of a diverse range of influences. Timeless too.