A Year in Reading: Blake Butler

December 3, 2014 | 78 3 min read

I had a dream I was locked in a cage earlier this year, a dream that went on for several years inside the sleep itself. In the dream, I was given no food or water, nor did I interact with any person or other sort of entity; the walls of the cage were flat and had no bars and no door for entry or exit. It was clear in the dream that I was sleeping, but that the time inside the cage was real, that the world was going on without me despite the illusion I would be presented with upon my return that no more than a night had passed.

The only thing besides my body in the cage was a book, which had been left there almost incidentally, as if by someone previously installed in the cage before I appeared there. The book was bound with leather that in this world would be called white, but in the dream was actually transparent to the point that seeing through it meant you were seeing through the actual cells of the world of the cell; like the texture of gasoline spread on the ground, but looking through it onto another planet. Though it was a very thin book in my hands, when it was opened it was as thick as a set of encyclopedias. It was written in a language I understood in my sleep but knew even while reading that when I woke not only would I not be able to remember what I’d read, but that I’d read it at all; that is, the text I remembered would be remembered as plates of color instead of words.

So each page of the book was a color, full and flat, and I read it. It expressed emotions I remember not feeling aware of ever before in waking, but that had always been through and through me, and underneath me, in my blood, in the dirt of the earth, in the wires of the computer, in the faces of the people. These emotions held us together as fibers and we didn’t know it and couldn’t read them in anyone else either except in passing moments that felt like pain or terror, and sometimes love, but actually in this book appeared as passages you could read and reread, could even memorize.

I was only able to read a few pages of the book over the several years the dream went on. I was aware of what was happening in my other life the whole time, the people I loved aging without me, changing without me. The book changed with them, too, reacting to me as the colors I had never before witnessed reflected the future of every person every inch, which included every book already created or to be created, as well as every film and painting, and every person. Each page was like death and like dying, where the meaning of that allowed transmission of the fractions of me remaining were transported not into blackness, but into a world between the two kinds of remaining worlds, between sleep and waking, and between aging and a sense of eternal time.

The dream ended like a movie cut off by someone remotely pressing a button on a film you were watching and did not know someone else had control over the experience of. There was a brief period of transition in which I could feel the smoke coming off of me from the transference from the state of the cage, where the book had touched me, and the body I had returned to, as well as the gap between the times of point of entry and return, and what has been changed in my absence, feeling like no change at all.

This is the state I have been reading in since the dream, which subsequently has caused all books I’ve read in that time to feel bound in the same edition, in the way that one pupil might be the same as any other pupil, for its blackness, more than what the blackness has absorbed.

Recently, I have begun reading with my eyes closed.

Image Credit: pixabay.

More from A Year in Reading 2014

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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’s latest book is 300,000,000 (Harper Perennial).

78 comments:

  1. This is well written, but I thought it was common knowledge that there is nothing more boring than dreams that aren’t your own.

  2. You guys, Blake Butler is serious. Books are over. Humor is over. Talent is over. Everything is over except Blake Butler. He’s a shaman, he has a vision: a wave of dumb bullshit, swallowing the cosmos.

  3. Last night I had a dream that I got fired from my job because I was caught looking at pictures of Meiko Askara. She wasn’t naked in the pictures, or doing anything pornographic, just posing in regular clothes. I think the reason I got fired is because I was the one who was nude. My boss tapped me on the shoulder and told me to get out of the building immediately. I asked him if I could put on some pants and he said no. When I got home my wife asked me why I was naked and I asked her if I could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My wife handed me the peanut butter and jelly sandwhich and I used it to cover my nuts. The next thing I know I’m in the hospital and my seven year old daughter is on life support. I walk out of the room and take the elevator to the basement. The doors open and I walk into what looks like a Kubrick exhibit, as it has still and props from all his movies covering the walls. But then I figure out that I’m really at the hospital’s day care center.

  4. And with this, BB narrowly beats out Jonathan Saffron’s side-of-a-Chipotle-cup musings for Most Pretentious, Masturbatory, Utterly Hollow Prose of 2014.

  5. Didn’t this guy post on some other website… about poets…. young poets from Brooklyn who went to expensive colleges… aww man, it’s on the tip of my tongue…and then there was this thing involving underaged boyfriends and everyone got mad… and then everyone suddenly realized that none of them ever had talent all along and dropped them like a hot potato… ugh, what was the name of that website?

    Shoot.

  6. Some good books I read this year:

    Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere
    24/7 by Jonathan Crary
    List by Matthew Roberson
    How To Stop Living And Start Worrying by Simon Critchley
    Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami
    The Last Man by Maurice Blanchot
    Gnit by Will Eno
    The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
    Fiction, Inc. by Ralph Clare

  7. Was it HTML Giant, the epitome of self-congratulatory ramblings by “writers” who created literary pablum for the sake of the praise of their peers? Happily, that site is now closed.

  8. This isn’t even pretentious, it’s like a parody of pretentiousness. Actually, if it was an intentional parody of pretentiousness, I think I’d like it. But I don’t think it’s a parody. Is it?

  9. Jesus, y’all are a whiney bunch. Is this how you act every time a writer doesn’t do the assignment exactly how you expect it to be done?

  10. Bill—

    Were this Mr Butler’s first slip into inane babble, it might be forgiven. It is, however, a now-established pattern. Mr Butler has a History of Bullshittery and this is just his latest limp drizzle.

  11. Bill, some of us have read Blake Butler’s work and recognize its contrived repetitiveness. I also disagree with the commenter above who said this is well written. Look at the fourth paragraph. Gotta be joking. Lazy as shit. Chock full of boring abstract nouns, a hallmark of crappy experimental writing. I’d kill myself before using “eternal time” in an email.

  12. It’s sad that the assignment was failed…the objective was pretty clear. One comes to this site expecting interesting recommendations, not – – – prose.
    And it stirred a lot of unnecessary ire.

  13. Conform! Conform! Turn in your assignment on time Blake – many of us have spent years getting MFAs and learning to be as boring as possible and we don’t like your weird response!

  14. M g

    The issue is not that BB’s post is “non-conformist”. The issue is that BB’s post is meaningless, pretentious, horribly-written garbage.

    To wit:

    “The book changed with them, too, reacting to me as the colors I had never before witnessed reflected the future of every person every inch, which included every book already created or to be created, as well as every film and painting, and every person.”

    This is terrible fucking writing – the ramblings of the dude down the dorm hall who just discovered pot as transcribed by his drunken buddy who is currently failing freshman comp.

    Non-conformism is great. Horrendous prose is not.

  15. The issue isn’t that it’s weird, the issue is that it isn’t good. It doesn’t really express anything of interest in a narrative sense (basically, “I had a weird dream”). This would be fine if it was good poetic language, but it isn’t–as someone else noted, it’s a bunch of vague abstract nouns. If a freshman in my creative writing class turned this in, I’d tell them this is a good start, now try to identify the thing you’re writing about and use specific language.

  16. I don’t even care if it’s “pretentious” (I liked “Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia”). I’m just sorry that Mr. Butler didn’t include any titles in his submission–I figured he’d definitely come up with some new-to-me authors and titles. I don’t understand why he passed up this opportunity to highlight other small press or experimental authors. It seems kind of … selfish? disdainful? I guess his schtick lately is encouraging people to hate-follow him, but couldn’t he have dropped the act long enough to drop a few recommendations for those of us who are truly interested? Kids these days, so disappointing.

  17. My god:

    Funny, ’cause when people bash MFAs, they often point to this type of writing. @guyinyourmfa could’ve written this as parody. Then there’s warmed-over Carver and every other aesthetic people consider “MFA fiction.” This is not about MFAs. It’s about real shit vs. bullshit using faux-weirdness as cover. I have a Virginia Woold quote for you:

    “Let a man get up and say, ‘Behold, this is the truth,’ and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say. ”

    re: reliance on lazy abstractions.

  18. My god

    As somebody who doesn’t have an MFA, I think this is a pretty low-as-fuck bar to set for non-conformist writing. It’s a bad description of a dream that Blake Butler never had, he’s just bullshitting us about having had it because it sounds pseudo-poetic/prophetic (heavy emphasis on pseudo). Like Alice said, I actually like the Year in Reading series because it has a cool utility, and sometimes I pick up books that authors happen to recommend. It’s a good way to spread word about other writers that might not normally get as much press as, say, Blake Butler. But why help a struggling author out or show readers some interesting books when you could just jerk off?

  19. Whether or not I like Butler’s writing (which I don’t), I certainly would consider taking a look at books he thought were worthy of reading. In submitting the prose he wrote, he did himself, The Millions and us a disservice. There’s no shame in keeping on topic in a case like this, and it doesn’t mean you’re a mindless robot if you actually stick to the subject.

  20. So when will Matt Bell’s “Year in Reading” post about how much he loved Butler’s 300,000,000 be published?

  21. “And let’s be clear, my god: Blake Butler has an MFA”

    And from Bennington, no less!

    This, from a very long, predictably edgy post on his horrible blog about his MFA experience: “I got told at least several dozen times a residency how I had to be gay, I was too ‘good looking’ to be a male writer and not be gay, impacted probably because I never ‘hooked up’ in dorms, neat, I don’t know what this means”

    It hardly needs to be said, but whatta maroon

  22. dude got torn apart for putting responding creatively.

    I’m not holding this up as “non-MFA” writing (whatever that means). I’m holding up the reaction here as how we’re all uncomfortable, due to so much schooling (including MFAs, the cherry on top of 18 years), with someone “not doing their assignment.” Like what – he thinks he’s soooo cool. He thinks he’s better! How dare he! Conform!

  23. Mygod, did you even read all of the comments? Sure, it isn’t an assignment. There is no grade. However, is this really the appropriate forum for experimentation? This project is an opportunity for authors, critics, and figures in the literary world to bring a spotlight to books that they think are deserving of wider attention. And yes, it’s also an act of self-promotion–I know I’ve picked up the books or started following the of contributors to this project in the past. Regardless of what I or anyone else thinks of his writing ability, it’s unambiguous that Butler squandered that opportunity. It’s his prerogative to do so, but it’s also mine to express my disappointment and the belief that this is childish, trolling behavior. Some of us are disappointed because we actually wanted to see what he would have recommended had he not decided to flaunt . Personally, I’ve already read everything that David Mitchell and Sarah Waters have written and while it’s nice to see that other people like them, I was excited by the prospect of a contributor who would broaden my horizons instead of just mentioning the same few books.

  24. Okay, my god, go one with your bad little self and submit that poetry manuscript to an agent who only represents novels. Good luck!

  25. My God,

    I personally liked the idea of someone responding creatively; there are plenty of suggestions in the other lists. But if you’re going to take up column space that could be devoted to suggesting other, lesser known authors, it had better be worthwhile, and this isn’t.

  26. Again, mygod:

    1. Dude got torn apart for unbelievably shitty writing.
    2. I’m uncomfortable with unbelievably shitty writing. I don’t care about his “assignment”. Actually, the same old formula for these (self-promotion followed by friend-promotion) is getting tiresome, so I look forward to a “non-conforming” and well-written piece. Unlike others here, I’m not upset that BB didn’t list any books; he’s a an unbelievably shitty writer, as demonstrated here, so why would I care what an unbelievably shitty writer recommends? That would be like asking your broke-ass uncle for financial advice.

  27. @ Alice – as Bill pointed out, Blake has reviewed plenty of books elsewhere. Writers finding exposure is not an issue. Writers being good enough is. Agree or disagree, that’s fine, but don’t assume your point is true and then criticize Blake for not doing everything he can to promote those poor suffering unnoticed great novels lying around.

    @Ed Bast – I’d just like to say, Ed, I don’t believe it’s appropriate to call an author’s writing “unbelievably shitty” if they are going to be reading your comment. Feel free to like or dislike the piece for literary reasons, but descriptions like “unbelievably shitty” should be reserved for your personality.

  28. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate to call an author’s writing “unbelievably shitty” if they are going to be reading your comment.”

    Why?

    Wait, so it’s okay to criticize, but only behind one’s back?

    Why is Blake Butler reading my comments?

    It’s okay for you to call my personality shitty, but not for me to call a published writer shitty?

    Wait – are you Blake Butler?!?!?!?

  29. Ed Bast, it’s inappropriate because it’s mean-spirited and unkind. Also, the quality of one’s writing is completely subjective.

    You don’t like it. Fine. What’s he supposed to do? Stop writing because you don’t like his stuff? Change his style completely to suit you?

    If that’s not the point, what IS the point? To save people who disagree with you? You’ll prove to them that Butler is a bad writer by pulling out a single sentence and ridiculing it? That’s the worst kind of criticism.

    If you don’t like it, just ignore it. Move on. Find something else to look at. No one is holding you by the scruff of your neck and making you read it. There is no dearth of reading material available to you.

    Blake Butler doesn’t owe you or anyone else anything. The Millions asked him for a submission, he made one, they approved sufficiently to publish it. No one is being victimized here.

    You’re acting like a jerk.

  30. “Also, the quality of one’s writing is completely subjective.”

    The timeless opinion of the stupid and cowardly. If you really believe that, you’re on the wrong website.

  31. If you don’t like Butler, and you think his writing is objectively bad, wouldn’t it be you who is on the wrong website? I mean, since his writing is appearing here.

  32. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! in other words? But since when were we only allowed to share friendly, nice thoughts? A turd’s a turd, and yeah there’s a lot of other stuff to read out there, but while reading other stuff also I happened to read this, and it’s just so much fun to hate it. I can’t resist! It doesn’t get a pass because the Millions published it and because I read the Millions.

    Also, I take your “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and raise you a “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a goddamn duck.”

    I’ve got to give a little credit to Butler, though. It’s certainly very enjoyable to dislike his writing / read through this thread.

  33. To be clear – I’m all for impolite dissent. The boring, polite back-patting and friend-favoring that literary lists like these encourage could use a little more passion, even negative.

    I’d just hate to think that our literary culture is so small-minded that any variation from the established program – even something as boring and rote as year end picks – deserves some kind of vicious attack.

    Unfortunately, this all appears to be a symptom of exactly that.

  34. I wasn’t aware that Butler is posting regular criticism and reading suggestions over at the Vice–last time I looked at it (several years ago, it seems) his contributions seemed like higher-brow Buzzfeed or Flavorwire articles. I don’t care for that, so I never checked back, but I will definitely take a look at what he’s reading over there. Thanks for the heads-up.

  35. Sure, you can criticize someone’s writing… if you have something INTERESTING to say about it. And you say it well. And you say it in a way that takes into account the fact that the writer will be reading it. But Ed’s string of comments didn’t add anything to the discussion, it was just a big loud “hey look what I’m randomly feeling for a microsecond – how about I tell everyone on the internet!”

  36. I can sum this all up by saying that it’s like the story of the Emperor that didn’t wear any clothes. All the people that don’t like the negative comments here are like those folks who wanted to shout down that little boy that pointed out the obvious.

    God forbid we should have an opinion that is negative or that differs, or that we should express it in strong terms. If you don’t like the intensity of some of the comments here, that’s just too bad. If the editors of The Millions think any of these comments are inappropriate, they have the option to delete them.

  37. “The timeless opinion of the stupid and cowardly. If you really believe that, you’re on the wrong website.”

    What a strange thing to say. It is incontrovertible that a judgment of the quality of writing is a subjective one. It’s so much so that, very frequently, writing that is considered at one point in time to be brilliant, is years later seen to be less so. And vice versa. Melville and Fitzgerald died as failures. Etc.

    The idea that someone who does/does not like a book is “right” and someone who does/does not like a book is “wrong” is just plain silly.

    As for Blake Butler, keep in mind that the implosion of the alt-lit paradigm as it was known has to have been devastating – and a fresh wound when he was writing this. And he may have re-read this when it was published and been pleased – or not – and he may re-read it again a year from now and cringe, or not. Because even if not everyone does, Blake Butler knows that all opinions on writing are subjective. Don’t believe me, read his essays.

  38. “As for Blake Butler, keep in mind that the implosion of the alt-lit paradigm as it was known has to have been devastating – and a fresh wound when he was writing this.”

    Haha! So adorable! So precious!

  39. JF,

    Although the judgment of writing quality is ultimately a subjective one, as you say, it’s disingenuous to suggest that there hasn’t, over the last, say, five hundred years, arisen a kind of critical consensus as to some broad traits shared by “good” writing. These might include things like specificity and originality of language, thematic coherence, fresh subject matter, etc. As near as is possible to authoritatively say, by those standards and others, the above is “bad” writing. I’m not saying BB is a bad person, and he’s obviously gotten quite a bit of notice for at least being original, which is really something in itself, but basically no one on planet Earth wants to read vague abstractions about a dream.

    In a similar sense, it’s subjectively impossible to say that a five year-old scraping a bow across an untuned violin is “bad” musical performance, and yes, sometimes amateur primitivism and the like shades into the avant garde, but nonetheless, most people with ears don’t want to hear it. Strictly speaking, you’re right–it’s subjective–but it gets pretty damn close to objectively true, close enough where imo the difference becomes somewhat unimportant.

  40. @Jacques Fleener

    Mr. Fleener, you are many things (including a person possessed of a lapidary writing style and piercing intelligence) but one thing you are NOT is precious.

    C’mon folks!

    Moe Murph
    Tried Not To Jump In, Failed Miserably, Still Devolving

    P.S. I thought this essay was cool.

  41. Hey just saying I didn’t like this piece so much, but Butler’s story in the latest ActionYes magazine was pretty good, so I neither hate him nor exalt him.

  42. Hey, don’t get me wrong – I didn’t like this piece one bit. It riled me a little. It’s pretentious and useless (to me).

    But what rankled me much more was the assertion that the assertion that “the quality of writing is subjective” is “stupid and cowardly.”

    I don’t think Frank Rich was suggesting that Blake Butler’s strange attempt to be edgy was good work. I think Frank Rich was merely suggesting that the dogpile was unnecessary and kinda pointless.

    It sucks – let’s move on. Maybe somebody liked it – why make them feel about it? What is the point of ridiculing Blake Butler? Especially knowing that he wrote this expressly to piss you off, so is now inordinately happy? (Or depressed and happy to be so – probably more likely.)

  43. Idk, it’s an interesting question: why do we argue about questions of taste?

    Because it matters, somehow? Because it’s fun? Because haters gonna hate? Because we’re time-wasting goldbrickers?

    For me, as a writer, I think there can be as much utility in disliking something as there often is in liking or admiring something else. And arguing about it, while pointless in terms of convincing someone else who likes it, can be a productive aesthetic exercise.

    In BB’s particular case, I think people already perceive him as a bit of an emperor’s new clothes situation, hence the dogpile, though I agree that it’s unseemly, even if somewhat justified.

  44. “If you don’t like it, just ignore it.”

    This is the most disturbing suggestion I’ve heard in a long time.

    Any artistic culture needs criticism, both positive and negative. I don’t know how I would grow as a writer without negative criticism. If everyone is always telling you your stuff is wonderful, it’s very easy to get comfortable.

    As to the point of criticism? Because we care! Nothing more, nothing less.

    Look, BB is published by Harper. He’s a so-called lit fiction writer who has a Big Five publisher behind him. This puts him on somewhat of a pedestal. Fair or not, he’s representative of contemporary American literary fiction. A lot of the people commenting here (myself included) aspire to those heights. So when BB publishes this garbage, it’s offensive to me. It’s the worst kind of writing – abstract, emotionally empty, incoherent, faux-profound, and poorly written to boot. Should this writer be held up as one of the best our literature has to offer? Hell no! Should a spade be called a spade? Absolutely.

    Now – is my overly-aggressive criticism on this website going to start a revolution? Doubtful. But perhaps it will arouse some passion in somebody. Perhaps it will inspire someone to write a little bit better. Perhaps it will bolster the confidence of some struggling writer, to know that there are others out there like her. Perhaps none of this will happen. I don’t know. But I am ferociously opposed to the idea of self-censoring negativity. Negativity is healthy, negativity is honest, negativity is a cold bucket of water over your head. Negativity is another perspective, another side of the coin.

    And The Millions is a forum that allows (encourages) the expression of opposing viewpoints. I’ve been critical of this site at times, but credit where credit is due: The Millions isn’t in the business of censorship, and thank goodness for that. There just aren’t many places to debate literature on the web, and passion for literary fiction is desperately needed in this day and age.

  45. To those debating about whether or not liking someone’s writing is subjective – that debate is irrelevant.

    What matters is HOW one should critique writing (regardless of if you believe your viewpoint subjective or objective). If you don’t like the writing, you have to have INTERESTING reasons you don’t, and you have to say it in a way that takes into account that the author will read it (because we are human beings living in a civilization dammit).

  46. “This is the most disturbing suggestion I’ve heard in a long time.

    Any artistic culture needs criticism, both positive and negative. I don’t know how I would grow as a writer without negative criticism. If everyone is always telling you your stuff is wonderful, it’s very easy to get comfortable.”

    Not totally surprised that a person (not saying you, I don’t know you) would take this and run as far in the wrong direction as humanly possible with it.

    Criticism is of course valuable. Thoughtful, learned criticism that clearly explains the whys and hows of a work’s flaws is instructive and can possibly unlock unforeseen potential in a writer who, let’s face it, like most of us cannot see his or her own flaws clearly.

    Personal attacks that read like vengeful venom against a Big Five-published practitioner of linguistic legerdemain are not criticism. They are bitterness.

    Anyone who would think that I think that I like Blake Butler’s work is a fool. However, I would defend Blake Butler’s right to write his inscrutable scribbles, and I would respect a publisher’s right to publish them.

    I don’t see any reason that I should tell you would I think of Blake Butler the person. I’ve already said I didn’t like the writing. But I also am not a huge fan of the self-congratulatory fistful of commenters on here who believe they have access to a truth no one else can see. They have a firm grip on a bitterness that no one else can taste – that is the case. But as far as wisdom … well, make all the precious observations you like. It doesn’t matter to me.

  47. [Re: “They have a firm grip on a bitterness that no one else can taste – that is the case. But as far as wisdom … well, make all the precious observations you like. It doesn’t matter to me.”]

    Powerful and thought-provoking.

  48. @Radsauce

    To close out on lighter note, sort of a Millions “Pod Mind.” What a frightening thought! :)

  49. JF

    1. My criticisms were of BB the writer, and BB’s writings. You may have found my criticisms harsh, but that doesn’t make them “personal attacks”.
    2. BB has every right to write whatever he wants, and his publisher has every right to publish them. America! Nobody here implied anything to the contrary (except Frank, who suggested that we shouldn’t really be positing negative opinions).
    3. I have every right to dislike BB’s work, and express that dislike. America!
    4. Maybe I am bitter. I choose to believe it’s frustration over the current scene in American letters – so much wasted talent and untapped potential – but I’m realistic enough to admit that if I were more swimming in a pool of cash from a Big Five advance I might not care as much. I hope that’s not the case, but who knows.
    5. Truth? Nah, nothing so absolute, my friend. Like an old acquaintance used to joke: “You’re entitled to your own wrong opinion.”

  50. Blake Butler is trolling. He always trolls. And by the amount of vitriol being spread in this comment thread, we’re simply giving in to what he wants, as evident in the following BB quote:

    “I like art that makes other people angry and nothing else…”

    (from #23 at the following link: http://www.vice.com/read/dont-want-to-read-any-more-books-about-straight-white-people-having-sex)

    As much as I also dislike this piece and all of Butler’s writing, I know my hate for it must be dampened, for if I spew the bitterness I feel, Blake Butler wins.

  51. “As for Blake Butler, keep in mind that the implosion of the alt-lit paradigm as it was known has to have been devastating – and a fresh wound when he was writing this.”

    Wait, what? Butler does not identify with alt-lit. He’d laugh at your suggestion that he wrote this while freshly “wounded” as a result of the “implosion of the alt-lit paradigm.” LOL! While it’s true that HTMLG supported and promoted alt-lit writing, Butler never identified with the movement and often dismissed suggestions that he was alt-lit. There was also occasional overlap between edgy internet writers and alt-lit. Writers in the first category were not necessarily alt-lit, even if their names were mentioned on some stupid little alt-lit blog.

  52. Dear Mygod,

    People have offered interesting and specific reasons why they don’t like the piece. Of course, you know this, and your implied suggestion that critics must write a 1,500-word essay suitable for submission for ENG 300 credit or whatever is nothing but a straw man.

  53. Dear eternal time,
    Did I say I had a problem with any of those critiques? My problem was with Ed Basts (and yes a few others but certainly not all) notion that he could say that this piece was “unbelievably shitty” along with a string of other dismissive and empty remarks. Don’t attribute a straw man to me that I wanted “1500 word essays” when I never said anything like that. Like, try to read my comments, not attribute things to me I didn’t say. I know that makes things harder but give it a shot.

  54. My god,

    What have you brought to the table that defends the piece beyond its mere right to exist? How is the piece a successful subversion of the repressive and hegemonic practice of recommending new and interesting books?

    Extra credit: is the “dreams-are-profound-things” thing a tad tired? Does the piece update the “dreams-explain-everything” trope? Or, to borrow your own language, does it “conform! conform!” ?

    I look forward to your response.

    Due: midnight.

  55. I got the reference, in fact that made me suspect EB was EC (EC is a Gaddis fan). Well, that + the pedantry, hyperbole, and envy of other writers.

  56. Well, have pasted in here one of my own comments from April 2014, part of a huge chain of comments to a piece about the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The Iowa Writer’s Workshop may be the only topic able to inspire more sheer disruption than Mr. Butler’s Year in Reading!

    Moe Murph
    Devolved Being w/All The Bitterness & Consistency of a Wormwood Jell-O Mold Left Out Too Long On the Holiday Buffet Table

    SEE BELOW:

    The Millions Comment Section – The Internet’s Answer To 18th Century London’s Literary Clubs and Establishments For Gentlemen

    LONDON – 1748

    Messrs. Jackson and Humbly, Awaited the arrival of that Odd Fellow, Raab, before being informed that he had been taken with a Most Grievous Case of Gout, and was being treated with an avaricious blend of Leeches from the Coast of Greater Guinea. ‘Twas doubtful he would live.

    “Errm, Hruuuumph, what of that Bluestocking Bitch Miss Dunham, up Mayfair Way with her Rantings? Shut her up in a Nunnery, I say!! Haaarrrruph,” grumbled Master Jackson from just by the stove, where he was making a Most Vain Attempt to warm his poor, ink-stained fingers.

    “Humbug, you Clattering Fool,” bellowed Master Humbly. “If Thou would stickest to Thine Own Verbiage, and attend to Matters of Grammatical Correctness, emulating the Great Johnson in That Endeavor, Thou wouldst have no time for such Frippery and Chatter!”

    Darting from his chair with a great roar, Jackson tackled Humbly, and they commenced to pound each other silly, until separated at last by Charles, Son of The Proprietor, who quieted the Riotous Outbreak by pouring the contents of a full chamber pot ‘pon their heads. What Ho! Walk On!!!

    The End

    Moe Murph
    18th Century Swine Girl – County Cork

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