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Sky Saw

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  34 reviews
"If there's a more thoroughly brilliant and exciting new writer than Blake Butler . . . well, there just isn't."--Dennis Cooper

"Blake Butler, mastermind and visionary, has sneaked up and drugged the American novel."--Ben Marcus

"I could go on at what these days were but the truth is I am tired. Would you even believe me if I did or didn't? Could this paper touch your face?
ebook, 200 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Tyrant Books (first published November 13th 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 418)
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I started reading Blake's latest the way I started with only two other books: The Double by Saramago and Libra by DeLillo. Not because of similar styles or content (though someone might be able to find affinities if they looked), but because it felt necessary and rewarding to pay very close attention. I started reading these books factorially, as in: I read section 1, reread section 1 and added section 2, read 1-3, read 1-4, read 1-5, etc. In using this method there comes a point though, as you ...more
Edward Rathke
Thought about giving this two stars because the writing's pretty interesting and the intense body sensations of his prose are top notch, but, I mean, how much does that matter when it's so hollow?

Comparisons to Burroughs are sort of strange and bewildering. Burroughs was a cultural, social, and political critic who was hilarious while being shocking and innovative and playfully inventive. This is none of those things. It's prose, disjointed and cacophonous and sometimes interesting, but with not
Michael Seidlinger
Perforate through the light and look into the disgust contained between the covers:

We see a child’s veins bloat and stiffen; a war on war itself, anything to be battled made to be already fought; a city where ex-felons are punished by being forced to share their own blood; a woman giving birth dozens and dozens of times, the result of each child being less important than the birth itself; a man that has visited every single house and stolen one important thing; a Cone that isn’t a cone at all b
"I panicked at the opening pages of Sky Saw (Tyrant Books / Dec. 2012), which are filled with this dense, complicated language, fearing Blake Butler would hold me hostage for the novel’s duration in a swamp of unclarified narrative, a poetic mire that, while beautiful in its bruising, wouldn’t lead me forward through a story. But then Sky Saw opened like the mold-blooms of his previous works, and there was a narrative to wrap my eyes around, and the book held me captive in a completely different ...more
Nate D
Jan 03, 2014 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: numbers
Recommended to Nate D by: the unseen ocean beneath the home
Open to a random page and you may read:

Through the wall he saw a child--someone standing just outside the plastic skewed with eyes as large as fifty fathers--eyes that grew into other space--rooms where he could see people he knew and had known, growing, eating, making fuck. He felt his body try to shout out through the pane to make it open, to thread himself into this once familiar air, but then the holes making the child's eyes had blinked and fleshed an moved away. In the place his voice had
Robert Kloss
Whenever you get down about things like TV celebrities getting $4,000,000 advances or fan fiction authors outselling... everything with their soft-core pornography, remember that Blake Butler exists, and that he wrote this book.
Ashley Crawford
Readers who know anything of Blake Butler will already know that he literally doesn’t sleep. Instead he writes and he writes with an insomniac fury. He launched onto the scene in 2009 with the all-too-brief darkly dystopic Scorch Atlas. That same year he produced, Ever, a slightly less successful novella. In 2011 he hit us with the utterly brilliant There Is No Year: A Novel ( and the bizarre self-portrait Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia. 2012 saw the rel ...more
M. Sarki

I can't even honestly say the book was OK (two stars) as I really did not like it much after the first forty pages or so. There are actually no spoilers in the review linked to above, and really it is quite impossible to provide with a work of this nature anyway. I tried hard to give this novel a good going over as it was my first venture into the work of Blake Butler, but it was just not my cup of tea. In that link above this text I explain in full my rea
Mel Bosworth
It’s a skin sausage stuffed with language in your father’s bloody bathtub by ten headless men. It’s frothy color spun at your eyes. It’s a wild ride for sure, and as soon as you attempt to assign clot to anything you fall off the painted pony. So don’t do that. Just spurt, yo. Spurt and air and cream. Maybe smear. It’ll come to you. It’s all there, and it eases you off the milk slide and into your meat chair. It’s true. It just happened to me.
Sheldon Lee Compton
- Review first appeared at Heavy Feather Review

In Blake Butler’s lyrically imagined new novel, Sky Saw, due out in December from Tyrant Books, you’ll find the his name spelled Blk Btlr on the cover and on each page.

Yes. It’s like that.

I toyed with the idea of writing this review without vowels. But I was concerned some might have a problem fully understanding whatever I may have to say of interest on the subject.

Nd ‘d sr ht t d tht.


Much like those first exposed to the Beats, there will be fo
SKY SAW magnificently contends with the mystery of being alive and how we are expected to stay alive in the weirdness and do or build something with it, despite not knowing what or why. It's a book of survival, but more than that it's a book of our simultaneous sameness and strangeness--how even though we are all the same atoms, bound by blood or meat or rings, we can never fully get inside each other. Not totally. This book feels very fucking true.
sky saw is a book, at times, that approaches such concreteness i became certain i could disagree with it.

in the imagination of the work we encounter all the usual images conflated with ugliness--sexlessness and labia and fat, i.e. in the semiotics of the book, in its attempt to appear threatening to the reader, draws upon sexism, transphobia, fat shaming, etc, which simply reproduces and extends the threat those who are always threatened face. here is a book too boring in imagination to engage
Dustin Reade
Language-wise, this is a great book. But the endless depression and heavy tone really wears on you after a while. The language, also, leaves you questioning what the hell is going on at times. The whole thing reads like a dream, with a lot of interesting ideas that, unfortunately, don't really seem to matter much. THings happen, people are barely involved, then another thing happens. It is a laundry list of horrible occurences involving three people that are barely alive to begin with wandering ...more
Chris Line
I'm not sure if I read this book. Butler's text is very difficult to swallow. A large portion of this novel is essentially meaningless (in a conventional sense), and much of it is entirely incomprehensible. Butler's prose is certainly distinctive, but it is relentlessly barbaric and brutal to process. I felt that this visceral and textural style of writing was much better suited to the short story collection Scorch Atlas, where narrative structure was less of an issue. This book lost me in sever ...more
SKY SAW is a sprawling and grotesque work punctuated by vividly surreal moments of beauty and strange angular sentences, all working in concert to produce destruction, existential mayhem, and acute reader psychosis in a way that transcends and stifles even the harshest inner 'what the fuck.'

This is to say that SKY SAW is Blake Butler doing what Blake Butler does; it probably isn't going to win over his detractors any more than it will turn current fans away. I might recommend SCORCH ATLAS or THE
It was grotesque without being disturbing, and visual without having impact. I loved There is No Year and Scorch Atlas, but struggled mightily with this one. There were occasional language tricks that I noticed, and lots and lots of imagery, but I was glad to finish this and set it down.
I think I would say that this is the weakest of Blake Butler's books. It seemed very unfocused and uninspired to me, and lacking in the structure/purpose one can find in his longer books. It really is one of those books where the description on the back cover is more interesting than the text itself: I got the impression it was going to be a sort of Burroughsian bad acid trip sci-fi dystopia sort of thing, but it wasn't like that at all (if only!). Instead, once again we have a weird haunted hou ...more
Tom Lin
It took me about sixty pages before I got the writing, before I got the message that Butler was trying to get across. Once the writing and the style clicked with me, the rest of the ride was great. To read Sky Saw is to go through the mind of Butler, to see not only language as texts of black and white with no color, but also to see the world as familiar and unfamiliar, to see reality as post-apocalyptic. There is a minor plot here, but the plot is really just there to usher in the images, to le ...more
blindingly repetitive and dull. disappointing.
Jeremy Maddux
"In the house around the mother the lights in the rooms blew open, each single bulb in slow procession split. With each the mother felt the light spreading on into her, wholly absorbed, her body rung with radiance and heat light. Inside her shape the mother found that she could both breathe and eat off of the liquid spurting there inside her and blurting from her body in the wash— she gave it off in bubbled grunts— liquid from her eyes and ears and nostrils, from her womb."

The sentence above is
Sam Moss
Butler, from what i can tell, is a writer that has found his style, revels in it, milks it for all it is worth. Revels in its iconoclastic and polarizing voice. He regularly achieves glowing critical response from a range of sources and literally multiple videos of people burning his book. The style Butler uses in Sky Saw and Nothing at least (I haven't read his earlier works There is No Year, Ever and Scorch Atlas) can at best be described as dream like or nightmarish. Logic for the most part ...more
Ok Sky Saw was about mother, a father, and (several) children. They have forgotten their names and something has told the other "men" (headless and they share the same blood) to create a wall of sky or something then a bunch of other stuff happens and the mother has a lot of children and the father seems to be trying to get back to the mother and the child gets lost after he mutates and then some other stuff happens and I suppose it's about how a family can't reach each other through the depths ...more
Charles Cohen
Horrifying. Not only because of the imagery (which, take that, Cronenberg), but because of the distance between people, the deep-end swimming of the whole thing. So hard to read, so hard to forget.
Caleb Wilson
This is a tough one--the writing is deliberately ugly, if brilliantly so, a kind of a anti-poetry where each word seems to have been chosen for maximum clanging and discordant effect. Sometimes Butler's hideous blend of crude slang and bland jargon made me smile but always also made me wince. The tragic hopeless world he creates--full of bacteria-like birds, eggs, flattened spaces, grotesque bodily distortion as if people were made of wax, rubber, putty--isn't exactly cruel, but only because it' ...more
Charlie Geoghegan-Clements
A very dense and disgusting book, but well worth sticking with. It bears comparison with Burroughs for both it's style and the subject (oddly familiar distopian world, weird organic mashed up texts, the presence of the author). In the end it's kinda just about family, but via Freud smushed through Deleuze and Guattari I think. It's a difficult book to begin with, but if read quickly enough becomes almost like a second language. If you stick through any confusion the images begin to take on more ...more
Julian Meanchoff
I don't really have time for this sort of writing anymore. EVER wasn't bad, especially since it was so short, but even at only 250 pages SKY SAW is about 150 pages too long for this style to hold my attention.

Apparently "the terrain and populace of SKY SAW is packed with stroboscopic memory mirage." *snore* I'll not be reading any more of his fiction.

Having said all of that, I'm still going to check out his book on Insomnia. From what I understand it's more of a memoir and judging from the revie
Jeff Liu
Butler assaults the reader with terrifyingly beautiful and fascinatingly horrific prose. The text reads like a hallucinogenic-fueled fever dream with brief flashes of lucidity. However, for all its style and experimentation, it ultimately falls flat due to Butler's reluctance to concede enough coherence to advance a plot. This leads to a tedious and middling last half of the book. The language is indeed beautiful and masterfully challenging, but it is not enough to redeem the lack of momentum an ...more
I will probably throw this book away.
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Blake Butler is the author of EVER, Scorch Atlas, and two books forthcoming in 2011 and 2012 from Harper Perennial. He edits 'the internet literature magazine blog of the future' HTML Giant. His other writing have appeared in The Believer, Unsaid, Fence, Dzanc's Best of the Web 2009. He lives in Atlanta.
More about Blake Butler...
Scorch Atlas There Is No Year EVER Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia Three Hundred Million: A Novel

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