Dear Anne Carson, 2004

March 29, 2004

Dear Anne Carson,

I can’t seem to find the words to begin this. In my mind, I can imagine what your books have meant to me over the years – how much of it I have found captivating and moving.

Every word I type, I slowly erase over.

I guess I can’t seem to keep the words on the page. I can remember the first book I read of yours – my lover left for work that day, and had an hour to kill before my class begun, and decided to spend some time on the couch and found your book Autobiography of Red. I opened the book, and felt so strange to be reading a story and having to move between pages like some “you choose” books where you have a choice to flip through certain pages for a custom journey. Reading those first pages were a bit strange, but I ended up relishing in the glow of that boy and his magical journey. I read it halfway before heading out to class. I remember wanting to coming back home, just to read it. I felt inspired by the story and the structure of it – it still has this beautiful mysterious glow to it that I cherish. I didn’t read any of your previous works and for the next 8 months, I began working on my thesis, of which the written part became a book about romance, love, language and narrative structures.

Sometime next fall I picked up a copy of Beauty of the Husband. I found yet again, this amazing composition of narrative, and driven by the idea that your work or your books felt so whole in its form, in its substance and structure. The next book I read, Plainwater, I was struggling to find a job, commuting to the city from various places I stayed; I read on the bus or train most of the time. Somehow, reading those meditative journeys about water and society really made me feel somehow connected in this larger stream, and I just felt so in tune with the passion of your words, it was like falling in love. By then, I fell out of love in my life, ended up spending a few weeks away from home in California. During that time, I was reading your translation of Sappho, which I found in the currents of the misty Pacific Ocean to be just as enlightening and mysterious findings as my own travels. I began cataloging all that I found on the ground in small ziploc bags. Evidence or treasures. I spent a lot of time there sitting on a bench near the ocean or walking on railroad tracks wondering what I need to do in my life, where I should be and how to make a living. I remember avidly writing in the margins and between lines of text in the books I read during my travels.

Walking in-between places…

I ended up finding a job for the summer outside NYC, near the shore. I remember carrying Eros, in my hands while walking along the edge of the ocean, dipping my feet in the water wondering about my passion, my place. Your books have really given my life a shape I have never seen before, have inspired me in my life and have added to my own desire for depth. I know the intimacy that books hold for me as a reader, and they are sacred. I wanted to thank you for your writing and all it has offered me. There are so many levels, I can’t begin to unpack right here, but know that your books have truly touched and inspired my life. Thank you.

Ethan Shoshan


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