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This review is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

Cover of Float
Jay DegenhardtA Blue Array
Anne Carson, Jonathan Cape, 2016 (£16.99) Reviewed by Jay Degenhardt
A TRANSPARENT plastic box encloses Anne Carson’s Float, a stack of twenty-two chapbooks. One side of the container is missing, through which the assorted poems, lectures, essays, and performances fall out. The contents page comes towards the top of this stack, and the works are listed in alphabetical order. By the time the collection fell into my hands, this order was gone – if it had ever been there to begin with. There is something more than aleatory in the composition, the swirling and perforated pile that practically encourages readers to lose any coherent arrangement they establish between the texts, ranging from discourse on the translation of silence to an elegy for a brother encoded in an elegy for a sister-in-law. The entire point seems to be more the absence of an established order – any established order – than the reader’s choice in creating one. There is one exception to the provisional alphabetism of the contents page; at its centre lies ‘108 (flotage)’, a poem in the form of a list from 1 to 108. Rather than being a stable island upon which the rest of the collection can settle, we find it is punctured throughout by skipped or lost articles, ‘like a winter sky, high, thin, restless, unfulfilled. That’s when I started to think about the word flotage.’

The booklets themselves have sleek, delicate pages; the paper covers range from pale green to deepest ocean blue, like the view one has of the spectrum of light filtered by water, fading into navy as one sinks from the surface ...


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