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'There Is No Year': Blake Butler interview

Blake Butler’s innovative masterpiece “There Is No Year” is an assemblage of corporeal imagery and otherworldly phenomena, a haunting glimpse into a parallel universe.

Blake Butler’s innovative masterpiece “There Is No Year” is an assemblage of corporeal imagery and otherworldly phenomena, a haunting glimpse into a parallel universe. There’s no dialogue and the subjects — a couple oppressed by suburban life and their mysteriously ill son — are never identified by name, but the story doesn't lack intimacy. Butler counters anonymity by assaulting his reader’s senses. In one of hundreds of fragmented scenes, he describes the son writing a book: “It contained various ingestible flavors, scents, and textures, imaginary numbers, sentences that destroyed themselves in their own utterance.” One cant help but wonder if the son is penning his own bizarro version of “There Is No Year.”

Reviews of the visceral novel suggest it is impossible to pin down Butler’s style and its idiosyncrasies. But Butler argues that it isn’t indescribable. “The imagery is allowed to do what it wants to in this Rorschach way,” he says. “It’s unspecific in a literary way but more specific in a body-oriented way.”

While the structure of “There is No Year” is non-linear and piecemeal, it develops organically. “It was really important to make each scene self-contained and then to start the next page with a different breath,” explains Butler. “You’d get an idea of what happened in the first scene and work through the darkness of it. The next page would begin logically as a result of the previous scene but would also operate in the same darkness. There’s this stumbling logic, but it all connects.”

As the co-founder of the often irreverent and successful blog htmlgiant.com, the Atlanta-based author draws inspiration from an online community of lit fans and fellow writers. “Any time I want to talk about what I am reading or writing, it all comes out on this Internet that exists everywhere but doesn’t really exist anywhere,” he says. “It’s been a place to get out what otherwise would have stayed bottled up.”

In addition to blogging and press-tours, he’s due to complete his next manuscript, a memoir about insomnia. “I’ve always had sleep trouble and that comes from not being able to stop,” he says of the compulsive behavior, which is also a recurring theme in “There Is No Year.” But as he reluctantly admits, he’s exhausted. “I’ve carried myself around like a zombie for the past five years, but I’m afraid it’s about to catch up with me.”

‘Infinite’ material


As co-founder of the lit blog Htmlgiant.com, Butler’s mailbox is
overflowing with books to review. Right now, he’s reading “The Pale
King,” the last novel by David Foster Wallace, whom he counts among his
influences.


“I was a computer science major” Butler recalls. “I asked for ‘Infinite
Jest’ for Christmas. I

didn’t know books could talk that way. I literally walked out of my
physics class one day while reading it. I realized, ‘I can’t do this
science bulls— anymore. It’s not making sense to me, but this book is.’”

 
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