14 July 2011

There Is No Year

I kept hearing about Blake Butler's new novel - innovative, haunting, artistic, poetic.  When HarperCollins offered a copy of the novel in their summer blogger email I decided to take the plunge.

There is No Year is a novel that defies description.  At minimum, it is the story of a family that moves into a new house.  They find a motionless, emotionless "copy family" - mother, father, child - and a room filled with hair.  The house is mysterious, mazelike, eerie.  Butler's writing worms its way into your imagination.

There is no obvious narrative structure making the book an interlinked series of prose poem-like chapters.  I was reminded a bit of Coraline, a bit of House of Leaves, a bit of the Winchester Mystery House, a bit of the movie Orphanage, and a bit of Donald Barthelme, particularly The Dead Father.  I couldn't just sit down and read this book cover to cover.  I read a chapter/poem or two, puttered around the house a bit, then sit down and read a few more.  I would love to hear Butler read this aloud because the beauty of this book is how the words evoke a situation where nothing is "right" - while the house is not menacing, it certainly is not welcoming.

*Dear FTC: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

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