I Need an Opening:
Professor sits in office. Reclines like a (fill in animal), feet up on a file cabinet. Socks only: one blue, one bluer. Professor thinks, “This is what I did with my intellect, my drive, my abilities and efforts–snagged a job where I can sit with my shoes off in an office and nobody gives me flak; in fact they might say, ‘Oh you creative folks,’ and expect me to sit with my shoes off, to let the artistic integrity breathe out my toes…”
Light knock. Tentative, a shoe scuffling. Professor thinks, “Undergrad.”
Undergrad peers into door. She sits, glances about office full of books, action figures and artifacts, hot sauces and hotter sauces, posters and paintings, heap after dangerous heap of shifting papers…
“Creative people make piles,” professor says dryly.
(Professor has used this one before for the state of his office. It usually works, and really what is an undergrad going to say?)
Then undergrad mumbles something about The Twilight Series, zombies, allergies to carpet fibers, about her dad wanting her to work as a bank teller; then finally, “Do you think I can write?
Yes. Always. Whenever you decide. Etc. If one thing: Do you love sentences?
Blake Butler loves sentences:
“..my veins an atlas spanned in tissue.”
“Strings of night might gleam of glass.”
“At my feet now in the bath the book had swollen several times–so large it filled the whole blank basin–it sponged around my knees.”
I say these give Lish and McCullers and McCarthy and all those McC-motherfuckers a run for their syntactical money. Strong medicine and music, a thumping heartbeat meter, a thought and non-thought (that weird interstitial space) that makes lines of words flow like rivers.
I Explicate EVER In Rural Tennessee Jargon:
Where I was raised we called this type of thing a slap-your-grandmother.
“This is how you clean a shotgun!” my grandfather said and he grabbed my gun and shot it into the air. Like that.
Cathead biscuits. Like hose pipe. Gravy. Gravy. Gravy.
Wild as a peach orchard hog.
My grandmother would say, “Lause.” Not sure what that means. But, Lause, Blake Butler, I do think you drop a mighty fine EVER on us here.
My uncle and I used to fish all day and night on a railroad trestle in the bottoms of Carroll County, TN, and one day–I don’t know how, child-like fascination, true fun, leading to sensory blindness–a train “snuck” up on us while on that trestle (a bridge, folks,over a swamp full of swamp and turtle and snake) and we had no living choice, but to lose poles, lose tackle boxes, lose lunchboxes, lose snake guns–LEAP into the river of swirling blackness below…later that evening we dried out over a low campfire and caught bluegill and cooked their tails crispy and ate them like potato chips, like no potato chips you have ever known, and we were grateful.
I Walk into my Freezing Backyard Right this Moment (While it Snows) and Take Four Photographs to Represent my Feelings on EVER.
p 48: My head had several hundred heads.
p 68. She was there inside the wood.
p 92. Other times the glass showed water…
p 32. The door, when stubborn, made my teeth ache.
I Make up Blurbs About Ever
“I laughed. I cried. I just kept on crying. I cry a lot lately. I am going through one awful divorce.”
“You know the thing where you compare this book to three others? Well, fuck that. This book isn’t a book. This book is 1.) My ugly nose. 2.) The way I slept with Jackson Pollock. 3.) Juneau Alaska (the largest city in the U.S [land mass], yet can only be reached by boat or plane). You understand me? No? Who gives a damn. I am rich. Rich. The rich don’t need your understanding. We glimmer in golden gyros above you.”
“The author’s sister is a fine wine I have tasted.”
I Notice Page 57 of My Copy of EVER is Blemished by an Orange Stain. Why?
top right corner, what gives…?
I Decide EVER is One of My Hundreds of Disc Golf Discs. Which One?
Ever is a Starfire SL. Custom fly-dye motherfucker to the house. Fast, “curved obscure” (p. 90), “a sense of time passed.” (p.78). See, the new Star Plastic is grippy, resilient, and so are these words, my friends. Because EVER is a maze, a fucking head-throb labyrinth, but Butler gobbles up all the breadcrumbs along the way, he cuts your little red thread, the one you were going to follow back out the cave. Whoops, Butler just got your plastic wind-up flashlight and laughed at you for having a plastic wind-up flashlight (What’s next, a Snuggie?) and then said: “Ever thought of this?” before snapping off the handle and shoving it down your esophagus. “There was much they could break…” Butler writes on page 43, and damn if he doesn’t grab an ax, a pickax, a motherfucking “center of the earth of the earth” (p. 82) kind of destruction. Things Fall Apart. Things Fall Apart. And move…Like the Starfire, Ever has glide, that mysterious flow of words that will propel you down the tunnels, down the plumbing pipes, the doorways–into the walls. The walls of EVER: cold, gray, white and full, crumbling, crumbling within themselves, the null and void of “…the morning of no sun.” (p. 95)
Sometimes I felt pulled. Sometimes I felt pushed. But something about EVER moved me, forced me, brought me along, page to sentence to word. To word. A said, word.
I read these words, like a flung one.
I Create a Graph About EVER:
I Discuss My Opinion on the Book Cover of EVER.
I did not enjoy the cover. The cover made me feel I was in an office waiting on a doctor. I do not like to pay for waiting. There’s something wrong there. I feel vertical blinds from the cover. I wanted something to be in the act of falling. Or maybe some splash of blood cells on porcelain, stark like that. I got a 1970s from the cover. A fern, dusty fern feeling, or something government. That is all I want to say about the cover at this time.
I Discuss My Opinion on the Size of EVER.
More and more, I find myself really enjoying books the size of EVER. Recent examples of similar sized titles I’ve read lately would be:
(What type of fiction professor takes this long in life to read this landmark collection? A stupid, negligent one.)
The Art of War
(If you have not read Art of War, stop reading my blog. Go buy a cool leather book stachel; AWP is on the horizon! Leave me be.)
The Blue Guide to Indiana
(Martone had to settle a lawsuit over this one. Note the big-ass disclaimer on the cover of the book. Do you read Martone? You should. Martone is like that blues musician that all other blues musicians nod about, know he has the chops. Whispered in backrooms, speak-easys, flop house water coolers of life.)
I just think this an optimum size for a book. You can fit it in your pocket. You can easily flip through it with bulky gloves while on a deer stand. You can get in a drunken fight and impulsively reach for the book to throw at your opponent and it won’t kill them, causing you to regret the morning vision through the metal bars. Also it costs less, usually. You can trade it for dog tranquilizers. You can avoid the onslaught of TV by holding the book directly in front of your eyeballs.
I Admit to the Readers Why My Copy of EVER was STAINED.
That’s no stain. That’s the hot saliva of God. Lunch with EVER. And satisfying. Go eat a copy.
You can buy it here.