her comparatively wide readership, is that our relationship with the classics is a two-way street. The influence comes not only from the past to us, but we, the readers, also shape the way we receive the work. In this now large body of work, the ordinary exchanges of our everyday reality become mythic.
This was clear in Carson's work from the beginning, but started reaching more readers with the publication of Autobiography of Red, a novel in verse, in 1999. In this long narrative, a character remembered only from a few surviving fragments--the red, winged monster and cattle-herder Geryon, whom Hercules must defeat as one of his assigned labors--becomes a boy from a place slightly resembling Carson's native Ontario. We watch him grow up, discover his sexual orientation and his love for the older Herakles, lose his love, become obsessed with time, and travel the world. Every so often, we are reminded of his redness and his wings.