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» » Autobiographies


Alfred Corn




Literature & Fiction

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1731 kb

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1753 kb

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1320 kb

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Viking; 1st edition (December 1, 1992)







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Autobiographies by Alfred Corn

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Since the publication of All Roads at Once in 1976, each of Alfred Corn's books has been praised for embodying an impressively wide range of subjects rendered with great technical skill. Autobiographies is his most surprising achievement to date. It opens with a group of lyric and reflective poems remarkable for their formal control and depth of feeling. There is, for example, a harrowing poem about Dracula told from the viewpoint of a young woman subject to his spell. The poems "Coventry" and "Cannot Be a Tourist" enact moments of recognition in other countries. The narrator's experience of being on his own in New York City after the end of a thirteen-year relationship is explored in "Resolutions" and "La Madeleine," the latter following parallels in the life of Mary Magdalene and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. "Contemporary Culture and the Letter K" charts twentieth-century experience up to the age of AIDS according to the fortunes of a single letter of the alphabet.The volume's long poem, "1992," is an autobiographical narrative set in many different locations in the United States, with scenes from five decades of the author's life. These are placed beside brief, plangent narratives from imagined lives of a wide cast of characters: a Puerto Rican teenager living in New York, a young woman of the Havasupai tribe, a retired black artist in northern Ohio, a Wisconsin mother visiting a dying relative, a young man serving time for disorderly conduct in a New Hampshire jail. The cumulatively widening and deepening picture of autobiographical and imagined experience provides a vivid and varied account of late twentieth-century America up to the quincentennial year of Columbus's voyage. In decades to come, Autobiographies will be remembered as a bold and innovative turning point in this author's achievement.

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