14 June 2011

Blake Butler, Scorch Atlas, 2009

Fourteen linked prose stories about the end of the world as we know it, but this is not a polite apocalypse after which there remains some kind of structure to life after the event. No, Butler’s vision is to turn everything completely inside out with nothing left to grasp onto: weather, society, bodies, the mind, and especially families which most of the stories are structured around. However life does go on somehow, and Butler pushes the reader through one impossible event after another with a variety of narrative voices that never question what is happening to them – try ‘The Many Forms of Rain’ for a sample. It’s an extraordinary and often jarring experiment, and as apocalypse fictions go this has to be a benchmark, something that for a long time will be hard to top.  PY


No comments: