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Bright Air Black

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Bright Air Black

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    Available in PDF Format | Bright Air Black.pdf | English
    David Vann(Author)
In brilliant poetic prose Bright Air Black brings us aboard the ship Argo for its epic return journey across the Black Sea from Persia’s Colchis – as Medea flees her home and father with Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece. Vann’s reimagining of this ancient tale offers a thrilling, realist alternative to the long-held notions of Medea as monster or sorceress. We witness with dramatic urgency Medea’s humanity, her Bronze Age roots and position in Greek society, her love affair with Jason, and her tragic demise.

Atmospheric and spellbinding, Bright Air Black is an indispensable, fresh and provocative take on one of our earliest texts and the most intimate and corporeal version of Medea’s story ever told.

"This Medea is intelligent and cynical, slighted by a husband and her gender. She is a woman who craves revenge for the fate of being born a woman and thus rendered powerless in a world ruled by men. Vann strips away the softer parts of Medea’s character as ruthlessly as Medea slits throats ... The centrepiece of Bright Air Black is the butchering of Pelias, a long and magnificently gruesome scene, described in stomach-churning detail ...Vann leaves us with the troubling paradox that murderous Medea is also a devoted mother ... Vann evokes this visceral, sensual, brutal world of warring city states, capricious gods and fragile human agency in a fractured prose style, reminiscent of ancient Greek drama and poetry. Short poetic phrases pile up, fall away, stop short. Powerful internal rhythms build and subside, like the waves the Argonauts sail over ... The time and the place may be very different from his previous novels, but Bright Air Black shares the same central structure of a searing family drama set against a backdrop of untamed nature … At the heart of this ambitious, dazzling, disturbing and memorable novel lies the uneasy juxtaposing of the wild and the civilised, and the complex, shifting relationship between the two." (Rebecca Abrams Financial Times)"[Vann’s] genius lies in his ability to blow away all the elegance and toga-clad politeness that have grown like a crust around our idea of ancient Greece and to reveal the bare bones of the Archaic period in all their bloody, reeking nastiness." (The Times)"Bright Air Black is a poetic fever dream, beautiful and unflinchingly primal.A vivid and forceful retelling of Medea’s famous story." (Madeline Miller, author of 'The Song of Achilles')"[David Vann] allows Medea to devour him and his readers: to read his book is to be swallowed down into her mad mind … Her wonder at the sea, and the way its water buoys her up, prompts a beautiful passage … Vann is indebted to poets, and he grants himself great poetic licence in his handling of syntax … Vivid, often appalling, sometimes piercingly sad and frequently striking." (Lucy Hughes-Hallett New Statesman)"A retelling of an ancient tale, a retouched portrait of one of mythology’s most enthralling and notorious women, Medea … (Vann) gives us a ringside seat to a blood-soaked, viscera-dripping gore-fest. Vann gives us a fresh slant on an early myth, an up-close and in-depth character study. From the outset, his drama unfolds in prose that is both atmospheric and electrifying … Vann’s content can be grim but his language has beauty and poise … [A] stunning depiction of one of mythology’s most complex characters … The tale is also one of great power and intensity. Bright Air Black possesses the same potency. Its dark energy shocks us and shakes us, yet it is impossible to pull away." (The Australian)

3.4 (8736)
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Book details

  • PDF | 272 pages
  • David Vann(Author)
  • William Heinemann (23 Mar. 2017)
  • English
  • 3
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
Read online or download a free book: Bright Air Black

Review Text

  • By Judy Nesbit on 15 August 2017

    The first half was an evocative imagining of Medea's journey from Colchis with Jason. I was disappointed with the later part which focused on an unlikely kidnapping of Orestes.

  • By L J Newsholme on 4 April 2017

    The structure of this book is clever. There are no chapters, which ensures that the narrative moves along at a frenetic pace matching the action described. Jason is unpleasant and his behaviour is reprehensible, but so is that of Medea. The author has portrayed her as someone who gains respect from others in a male dominated world by invoking fear in those around her. While this is understandable, it does not make for easy reading and ultimately, I did not enjoy this book. The prose is too lyrical for me and though I can appreciate that the author is attempting to emulate the epic writers of classical Greece, it seems somewhat redundant. I think that when re-telling such a well known tale, it would be better to update it rather than stick to the methods of the past.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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