In the acknowledgements of his latest novel, David Vann declares: “I’m a neoclassical writer. My novels are all Greek tragedies.”
Bright Air Black is Vann’s biggest Greek tragedy to date, primarily because it is a retelling of an ancient tale, a retouched portrait of one of mythology’s most enthralling and notorious women, Medea.
Vann’s reimagining is not for the faint-hearted. Some will wonder if he oversteps the mark. Others will question the point of the whole enterprise. Why bother with a book which takes, blends and repurposes episodes from Apollonius of Rhodes’ The Argonautica and Euripides’ Medea when we can read those original works?
The answer becomes clear several pages into Bright Air Black. 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.
|Maria Callas as Medea|