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Defector Reads A Book

Defector Reads A Book Is Back For December

Three men share a table as they read in the South Reading Room at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York City, New York, 1953.
Photo: Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The chill of December is upon us. As usual, you do not have anything better to do than read acclaimed works of literature and visit For your convenience, we are once again consolidating these favorite pastimes of yours into one nifty program: Defector Reads A Book, the now-recurring feature in which Defector reads a book and then writes about it.

A quick recap: In November, the Defector book sickos read Maria Dahvana Headley's new translation of Beowulf. At the end of the month, we discussed it, and you, our readers, shared your own sharp and thoughtful insights in the comments. We talked about the joys of revisiting classics, the difficulties of translation, Anglo-Saxon heroism, and swords. DRAB does not give out grades because this is not school. This is fun! Still, if there were grades, everyone would get an A.

It went so well that it is happening again. DRAB has a thing for books that hybridize antiquity and modernity, evidently. Our December selection is Anne Carson's novel in verse Autobiography of Red.

In Greek myth, Geryon was a monster killed by Herakles during the tenth labor. He's also the subject of a lyric poem written “from Geryon’s own experience” by the ancient Greek poet Stesichoros, whose surviving Geryoneis fragments Carson adapts and reimagines in Autobiography of Red. Geryon, in Carson's insanely beautiful telling, becomes a sensitive teenage boy very much in love with the insensitive bad boy Herakles. It's about 150 pages, but the sort of book worth savoring and lingering over.

Your tasks are to get the book (we recommend an independent bookstore, your local library or, read the book, think about the book, and then visit on Tuesday, January 5 to read our discussion and add your comments. Consider putting it in your calendar so you don't forget. The DRAB discussion group this month will be Kelsey McKinney, Giri Nathan, Billy Haisley, and me.

If you have feedback or suggestions for DRAB, you can leave them here in the comments. You could also send an email to Maybe I will read it. Maybe I will print it out, crumple it up, throw it in the trash and never think about it again! Hope you enjoy the book.

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