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July 26, 2011

Book Notes - Blake Butler ("There Is No Year")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

I have used strong words of praise to describe Blake Butler's previous two novels, and There Is No Year deserves such superlatives and more.

Inventive, experimental, disturbing, and ultimately rewarding, There Is No Year is as much prose poem as novel, and showcases Butler's unique and burgeoning literary talent.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"This novel is a thing of such strange beauty that digging for answers of your own will yield the rewards that only well-made art can provide."

In his own words, here is Blake Butler's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, There Is No Year:

This information was deleted from the novel There Is No Year. In the novel there is a son who has a computer that he does not know he has. The computer is full of music that operates inside his life without him knowing also either really. He might think he is hearing songs but he isn't really hearing songs, which I think is what also happens to people and especially when they are reading books. I don't like the idea of language being music. It should be to me more the sound of something being chewed, which you are then trying to cover over like white noise machines when you are trying to go to sleep. Anyway, the music on the machine affects the son without him realizing. In this way the son is any person, but not every person.


10. "A Year in a Minute" by Fennesz (83 plays)

Someone had emailed this song to the son from an address with no alphanumeric characters in the name, which when responded to bounced as a dead address. Though in the autoreply email's body message was a string of digits, which when properly arranged and dialed from a certain payphone off a certain exit of a highway not yet built, a caller might connect and hear someone speak.

9. "Paper" by Talking Heads (157 plays)

Each time the son played this song the sky would shift its color. The carpet would come curdled. In some instances, depending on how the son stood and aimed his head, the song would change its words. “See if you can fit it on the paper,” the son would repeat endlessly inside his sleep.

8. "Nightclubbing" by Iggy Pop (161 plays). This song made the son need to eat⎯eat and eat and eat until he could do nothing else but glurp and swim inside the gleam behind his eyes.

7. "They Bout To Find Yo Body" by Three 6 Mafia (164 plays)

The son knew this song not as a song so much as a door into a room, at which something had been clawing, something shaped just liked his mind.

6. "It Takes Forever To Become Diamonds So Let's Burn Like Coal Until the Sky's Black" by Storm & Stress (188 plays)

Every time this song played the son heard the front door open or the phone ring or the son got a nosebleed or the son could no longer taste or the son's hair began to fall out or the son could not think of his name. The son could not bring himself to delete this song.

5. "Young Hole" by Emperor (246 plays)

This song came though once on an AM station that all other days received no signal. The band themselves did not realize they had written or recorded this 18-hour song. The son did not know why he felt he appeared inside this recording, or why it seemed to have been playing through and through him since he was born.

4. "SOMEONE SOMEBUN SOMESNORF SOMES" by Snancii (290 plays)

This band does not exist. This song first occurred to the son during sleeping. This song consisted of one word. The son heard the word and woke up and when he went to his computer he saw the song there in the files. The son pressed play and could not stop the song for several hours and yet could not sing or hum or manage any portion of the music when he tried to explain the song to someone else. The son contained several phrases from a song the mother knew.

3. Soundtrack to Invocation of My Demon Brother by Mick Jagger (611 plays)

This composition had been on a CD left on the son's desk. There was no marking on the disc and no one ever spoke up to him about it and this was the only song the disc contained, repeated over and over until the disc was full. Though the disc claimed to only hold 80 minutes, it would go on and on all night.

2. "Blood Promise" by Swans (1151 plays)

The son had never heard this song to its completion. He only put it on to go to sleep. Something about the instance mesmerized him, bubbling. He could not make it beyond the first 30 seconds. This song cured an otherwise pervasive bout of insomnia that the son had since inside the womb, caused by the fact that the son could not stop thinking even when he was thinking about nothing. The son would sleep with his eyes open.

1. "_____" (29388 plays)

This last track appeared in the son's iTunes browser as a trail of mangled digits or a blur. The son could not view the details of the track. When the son tried to click the track to play it, iTunes would crash and often so would the computer. Sometimes the son was able to mouseover on the song when rolling in from certain angles and the album art would appear in the bottom corner of the iTunes browser. The album's artwork appeared to be the face of a man obscured by several kinds of light and grain, though the son could never see the image long enough to tell for certain what was there. The song's play count continued rising week after week despite how the son never heard it play, and even when the son turned the computer asleep or off. Sometimes unplugged, the computer's encasement would discolor or spin or walk or hum.

Blake Butler and There Is No Year links:

the author's blog
the author's collaborative blog HTMLGIANT
excerpts from the book (the author reading at The Writers' Block)

Asylum review
Barnes and Noble Review review
The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog review
Bookforum review
Denver Post review
Fiction Advocate review
Kirkus Reviews review
New York Times review
The OF Blog review
Stoya review
Time Out Boston review

Creative Loafing Atlanta profile of the author
DC's profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for EVER
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Scorch Atlas
Metro interview with the author
New York Observer profile of the author
The Rumpus interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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