Anne Carson's "1 = 1" was originally published in the January 11, 2016 issue of The New Yorker. Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.
I love Anne Carson’s work. I find it profound as she plays with form and humanity’s ancient questions. If you haven’t read Autobiography of Red, Nox (which is one of the most beautiful and unique books I own), or Antigonick, I recommend you fix that as soon as possible! I myself need to catch up as read Red Doc>, the sequel to Autobiography of Red.
Carson has appeared in the pages of The New Yorker several times over the years, but always in the poetry section. This is the first piece of short fiction she’s published in that magazine that I can find. And I’m as excited to read this as I have been about reading any story in The New Yorker in a couple of years.
I look forward to reading your thoughts below.
Here are Adrienne’s thoughts, to start us off!
I do not understand everything about this story, but I know there is so much in there to find. I wish I had more learning, more background, more intellect to make and see the connections that are here in this piece. So I’d like to encourage discussion about this story. I am ready to learn.
What did you notice? What struck you about the beginning and its connection to the ending? Is there a symbolism that ran through here that was heavy for you? Did this prose piece feel poetic in tone and theme? What is this tale really about?
Water predominates this piece — the lake, the sea. It held and cradled characters: the main character, the dog, refugees.
The first line is haunting: “She visits others.” Yet, then the protagonist calls herself selfish. How? Why? She notices people, situations, individuals. But she says there’s “no momentum in sharing” . . . ?
There is pressure to swim well and to use this water correctly. [. . .] Every water has its own rules and offering. Misuse is hard to explain. Perhaps involved is that commonplace struggle to know beauty, to know beauty exactly, to put oneself right in its path, to be in the perfect place to hear the nightingale sing, see the groom kiss the bride, clock the comet. Every water has a right place to be, but that place is motion. You have to keep finding it, keep having it find you. Your movement sinks into and out of it with each stroke. You can fail it with each stroke. What does that mean, fail it.
What does “fail it” mean?
And how does this connect to the end? “The fox does not fail.” And Comrade Chandler’s connection to the fox?
So much to talk about here. Let’s talk about it and see what we discover from each other.