Review: There Is No Year

There Is No Year
There Is No Year by Blake Butler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. It causes enough existential dread in me for me to like it, but overall it seems like a bit of a stunt, and the imagery is a bit uneven, often cliche. Butler never met a set of parallel mirrors he didn’t like (the girl at the fast food place is wearing a shirt with a picture of the man in the car at the fast food place getting food from a girl wearing a picture of a man in the car and yadda yadda yadda … what are we? in third grade?), and neither he nor his editor apparently know the correct time to use further vs. farther (there are multiple instances of further used in reference to a concept of physical distance). At the best of times, the novel feels like a museum installation designed to show the infinite expanses of oblivion tucked within a common household (holes within holes within holes; emptiness within emptiness; these are central themes to the work), with the house itself shifting and changing as much as any body, feeling at times like a world designed by M. C. Escher, at other times like a world designed by Salvador Dali. But then again, it’s all soooo repetitious, and I’m not sure I got anything out of the second two hundred pages than I got out of the first two hundred. A few passages and sentences in particular are quite good, but there are also a lot of passages that feel pointless. I’d be interested in reading something by this writer that was a bit more thought-through and emotionally honest than this one feels.

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