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H of H Playbook

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A gorgeous facsimile edition (reminiscent of her classic book-in-a-box, Nox ), H of H Playbook is a stunning re-creation of Euripides’s famous play, with illustrations by the author H of H Playbook is an explosion of thought, in drawings and language, about a Greek tragedy called Herakles by the 5th-century BC poet Euripides. In myth Herakles is an embodiment of manly violence who returns home after years of making war on enemies and monsters (his famous “Labors of Herakles”) to find he cannot adapt himself to a life of peacetime domesticity. He goes berserk and murders his whole family. Suicide is his next idea. Amazingly, this does not happen. Due to the intervention of his friend Theseus, Herakles comes to believe he is not, after all, indelibly stained by his own crimes, nor is his life without value. It remains for the reader to judge this redemptive outcome.
      “I think there is no such thing as an innocent landscape,” said Anselm Kiefer, painter of forests grown tall on bones.

112 pages, Hardcover

First published October 26, 2021

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About the author

Anne Carson

84 books3,818 followers
Anne Carson is a Canadian poet, essayist, translator and professor of Classics. Carson lived in Montreal for several years and taught at McGill University, the University of Michigan, and at Princeton University from 1980 to 1987. She was a 1998 Guggenheim Fellow, and in 2000 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also won a Lannan Literary Award.

Carson (with background in classical languages, comparative literature, anthropology, history, and commercial art) blends ideas and themes from many fields in her writing. She frequently references, modernizes, and translates Ancient Greek literature. She has published eighteen books as of 2013, all of which blend the forms of poetry, essay, prose, criticism, translation, dramatic dialogue, fiction, and non-fiction. She is an internationally acclaimed writer. Her books include Antigonick, Nox, Decreation, The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry; Economy of the Unlost; Autobiography of Red, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry, and Glass, Irony and God, shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Carson is also a classics scholar, the translator of If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, and the author of Eros the Bittersweet. Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Her latest book, Red Doc>, was shortlisted for the 2013 T.S. Elliot Prize.

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5 stars
255 (54%)
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159 (34%)
3 stars
44 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 87 reviews
Profile Image for prashant.
144 reviews220 followers
January 4, 2023
it’s always an experience reading anne carson and this one was very jarring. something made between the stars but still of this world (even if an older, more melodramatic world). a world of red. i love her so much

“your gods crafted a soul too big for the space of life they give you to live in”

“i cannot rise. too heavy with filth and sin.”
“give me your hand.”
“i’ll stain you.”
“i’ll take it.”
Profile Image for Yong Xiang.
60 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2022
herakles redeems himself after war ptsd makes him commit sin. typical anne carson writing style (good) including lines like: "what's it like to wear an olympian overall held up by the burning straps of mortal shortfall?" and "i'm the H of H wife. we're a suppliant stack. every time the door creaks the kids think he's back." followed by a drawing of people stacked on top of each other.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books342 followers
March 5, 2022
No offense to fans of Anne Carson. I did not get along with this book. It says it is "translated by Anne Carson" but it is more of an homage. Translation should not be an act of loosely rewriting and adapting an idea into a disputable interpretation. I don't consider it poetry or prose, just scrapbooking. The deeper meanings and Easter eggs and anachronisms could offer food for thought for some, but the random brown smudges and clippings serve no discernible purpose but distraction in my eyes. With other experimental novels, I can sometimes appreciate the physical effort that went into composition. But like the post-post modern paintings where it's just a twenty-foot wide white canvas with a skid mark in the corner, called Untitled # 345, I don't buy in to its purported profundity.
I'll read up on what this mess is supposed to mean as well as try some of her other productions, but convicting me will probably be a lost cause.
Profile Image for Teo.
3 reviews3 followers
October 30, 2021
"𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘶𝘯𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥."

Wenn es jedes Jahr ein neues Buch von Anne Carson gäbe, wäre die Welt ein besserer Ort.
Profile Image for Antonio Delgado.
1,434 reviews42 followers
November 15, 2022
Anne Carson continues to produce great poetry/drama/essays (a glen that includes and dissolves them into one) when bringing to the present clásica texts. Arguably, this is her finest adaptation of a Greek play. One reads it straight and in between the lines to gather simple, real and a complex. In addition, she has crafted a beautiful book. Her drawings, her art, are a text on their own.

Another reading actualizes it into our contemporary world, which is not far from antiquity. Carson reminds us that in every page.
Profile Image for Menal S.
80 reviews12 followers
November 11, 2021
H of H:
I cannot rise. Too heavy with filth and sin.
Give me your hand.
H of H:
I'll stain you.
l'Il take it.

anne oh my god anne
Profile Image for Steven R. Kraaijeveld.
502 reviews1,764 followers
December 25, 2021
"Chorus: We go in grief.
We go in tears.
So many swift and dirty years.
We've lost a man of greatest merit,
truly a devil of a spirit,
our greatest, our most legendary friend."
H of H is a beautiful facsimile of Anne Carson's personal playbook about Euripides's tragedy Herakles. Herakles is an embodiment of manly violence—when he returns home after many years of fighting enemies and monsters (the Labors of Herakles), he discovers that he cannot adapt himself to domestic life. He goes mad and murders his wife and children. Once lucidity returns, he wants to commit suicide. But his friend Theseus intervenes:
H of H: "I cannot rise. Too heavy with filth and sin."
Theseus: "Give me your hand."
H of H: "I'll stain you."
Theseus: "I'll take it."

Profile Image for Samrat.
241 reviews
March 25, 2022
I can't recall the last time I've enjoyed a book as a physical object this much.
Profile Image for Eliot.
9 reviews7 followers
July 17, 2022
“If you're to tell me about grief, Anne, then please, talk about everyone's. / But that I did, Daddio, that I did, in that small and quite little Airstream trailer.“
Profile Image for r.j..
55 reviews10 followers
January 4, 2022
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Anne Carson. Her books Autobiography of Red and Red Doc originally introduced me to her work, so seeing her revisit one of the myths that she wrote about in those made me know I had to buy this immediately. H of H Playbook is a translation of part of the Herakles labours story, specifically the aftermath in which he returns home and cannot cope with domestic life.

I would recommend Carson’s translations to anyone who is interested in learning more about the nature of translation and the ways in which we retell and reframe mythology and narratives. It’s hard to explain her work - you have to read it to see if. But if you’re interested in translation, language, or mythology, I would definitely recommend H of H Playbook or any of her other translations/retellings.
Profile Image for Cooper Renner.
Author 20 books43 followers
November 8, 2021
This is a beautifully made book, a beautiful object. The writing—a recasting and semi-translation of Herakles by Euripides—is more problematic: often wonderful, often too clever by half. Carson is considered an intellectual author, and in many ways she is, but she is also a popularizer, with the flaws that “effort” can engender. In many ways, what she does—often with Greek myth—is resonant of what Laurie Anderson, in a very different milieu, does: but Anderson is better, more authentic, less glib.
Profile Image for Sophia.
274 reviews
January 23, 2022
Utterly astounding and affirming of my belief that Anne Carson is the greatest living writer of our time, you'll see!
Profile Image for King.
126 reviews
January 15, 2023
Oh the possibilities for storytelling this opens up.....
Profile Image for syd.
112 reviews6 followers
January 27, 2023
i love that the one things i know about ms. carson is that she is a classicist, professor, and lives in canada. really respect the fact that i don't know a lot about her.
Profile Image for Tommy Lefroy.
8 reviews56 followers
January 17, 2023
what could be more useless than you limping off stage to die in a dead language?
Profile Image for Neha.
217 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2022
I was craving something like this from Carson ever since I read Nox in college. I love the way Carson uses space, and I haven’t seen her flex that skill as much as she did in Nox until now. Of course, her writing is absolutely stunning as always. I devoured this play(book), and it hit everything and everywhere in me I needed.

“It made the heavens seem low to have this pedestal. But they are not low, they rise up as you come close, all their skies and stars whirling cold above you and strange winds, now black now white, that throw new electricity into your every living cell.” I felt similarly while reading H of H: completely electrified.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
20 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2022
Emotionally jarring and complex. Anne Carson's writing is beautiful, I can't wait to read more of her works. I needed to take a moment to breathe after finishing this one.
Profile Image for H.
148 reviews22 followers
October 3, 2022
i just love how much carson considers the Experience of reading, of text and color and image on the page, of white (or in this case beige) space. gonna read the OG next
Profile Image for Dally.
6 reviews
January 1, 2023
I know I didn´t fully understand this book.

We go in grief.
We go in tears.
So many swift and dirty years.
We´ve lost a man of greatest merit,
truly a devil of a spirit,
our greatest, our most legendary friend."

Now, let´s be honest: In the beginning I hated it! I didn´t like the conjunction of modern world and ancient mythos - and I didn´t understand why. Why rewrite an ancient story this way, change it completly. I found it confusing to read about the greek gods and then read the word trailerpark, but once I understood, it broke my heart. Especially the ending broke my heart.

Profile Image for angie!.
15 reviews
February 9, 2022
brief pause. i'm walking backward into my own myth. i was trying to walk out.

at 100 pages anne carson's h of h playbook is an unique retelling of herakles adding a modern twist to euripides’ classic and i've been looking forward to reading it after finishing her original translation in grief lessons: four plays by euripides. unfortunately try as i might, i didn't like it as much as i expected to, but carson's usual style shines through and i admire the way she maintains the gravity of the play throughout the book while changing the pacing and the language to something new, even when he's using modern day slang and ordering pizza on his phone or lamenting capitalism there is no doubt that it is herakles of old speaking. sadly the unique use of space and colour was mostly lost on me having read it in digital format, but the layout and carson's drawings were beautiful nonetheless. all in all i found it original and interesting, if not much to my liking and i am glad i read it and would 10/10 recommend it to anyone who (unlike me) enjoys modern retellings of classics. and even if (like me) you don't, i guarantee (like me) you'll be thinking about this book for the next 24 hours at the very least whether you liked it or not.

i don't judge you. i'm not saying move bach towards life, i'm saying the future isn't elsewhere. we're in a locked spaceship, h of h, we have nothing but continuing. what could be more useless than you limping offstage to die in a dead language? of course the guys upstairs would love that. your gods crafted a soul too big for the space of life they gave you to live in.
Profile Image for Keith.
818 reviews31 followers
January 10, 2022
Herakles, or The Fury of Herakles or Hercules Furens, is not one of Euripides better known plays, but it is one of my favorites. I’ve always enjoyed (if that’s the right word) the way the play undermines the idea of heroism and the role of the gods. It’s a bitter, bitter play, but it attests to the strength of the human spirit.

From the most basic elements of the play, Carson spins a word-art creation, combining drawings and text that simultaneously modernizes the play while taking us back to 450 BC when the play was first presented. It is a strange and twisted collage, and I particularly enjoyed the light rhyme that seemed to put an extra edge on the story she was telling. The added element of dark humor is very appropriate to such a dark play.

Overall, I enjoyed it and the way it deconstructed the story and put it back together again. If you love the ancient Greek playwrights and enjoy a modern spin on their themes, I recommend this unique work.
Profile Image for Kidlitter.
792 reviews10 followers
December 19, 2021
Carson makes you feel smarter just by attempting to read her books - even if the meta meanings are frustratingly elusive if you're not steeped in the classics, the language is beautiful and the drawings so accessible, one draws closer to Greek literature and modern poetry and the eternal state of tragedy, hope, redemption just by having a go at a Carson opus. And unlike reading Sebald, you don't want to end it all after reading one of her books, even if it is steeped in the very most brutal of stories. She's a genius and if she doesn't get a Nobel Prize, this angry Canadian will just have to write a letter to someone. But I feel like Carson is much too cool to care about such trivial patriarchal nonsense, so to honour her, please read or buy a book by her or ask your library to carry something by one of our greatest living poets.
Profile Image for Patrick Brennan.
118 reviews13 followers
May 3, 2022
So, I expected to really enjoy this book, considering how much I liked Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red. Unfortunately, I think her unique style of writing and crafting a book actually worked to the disadvantage of the story in this case.

Frankly put, it was hard to follow. I had to really slow down to know what was going on. Given, it is supposed to be imagined as a play, not just read by an individual, but by a cast of characters. I think I may have taken a greater liking to the material had it been in play format.

I enjoyed the discussion of PTSD and violence for those returning from war. This theme was a major focal point of the story, and it was well executed.

Favorite line (as crude and odd as it is): "You think psychopathy has nothing to do with the capitalist system? You're wrong. Capitalism farts cruelty like gas from a lawnmower."
Profile Image for ethan pickett.
19 reviews
October 11, 2022
she has done it again. a groundbreaking display of how to use form, presentation, reference, humor, heartbreak, silence, iteration, and chance to create a work that stands out among contemporary literature. Carson leads us bravely into the unknown of experiment and innovation in the form of printed media and thought. this work defies description, as any truncation of what exists in these pages is a major disservice to the experience to be had by simply reading it.

she is Miles Davis, she is Andrei Tarkovsky, she is Cindy Sherman. what an absolute visionary. this book serves to further solidify a previously established fact: Anne Carson is potentially the most important working writer we have. we must cherish her.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 87 reviews

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