Averno I

I picked this up in a small uninteresting bookstore: the book won the Nobel prize 2020, though confusingly it is first published 2006. Technically it is good. There are I think psychological (“the soul is divided / ego, superego id”) strong points, e.g. “the tale of Peresphone / which should be read / as an argument between the mother and the lover – / the daughter is just meat”, but Gluck’s wit (“Longing, what is that? Desire, what is that?”) cannot I think mitigate for the narcissistically matter-of-fact tone in places.

The sequence seems to seek closure.

At times it seems ordered by her take on confession. There is a point of violence in ‘Fugue’ which seemed to pick things up


Then I was wounded. The bow

was now a Harp, its string cutting

deep into my palm. In the dream,

it both makes the wound and seals the wound.

But the sequence is soon over, enacting its attempt at closure, which is surely by definition a success, by introducing the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The problem I have with Gluck here is that she seems to lack empathy, which is reflected in the smallness of scale to her interest in place, despite the language, which does keep things fairly novel, avoiding focus / concision presumably for the benefit of line break torque.