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4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  128 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Shortlisted for The Believer Book Award

Fiction. An absurdly comic and decidedly digressive novel, S P R A W L chronicles the mercurial inner life of one suburban woman. With vertiginous energy and a deadpan eye, the narrator records the seeming uniformity of her world--the dissolving marriage, crumbs on the countertop, the drunken neighbor careening into the pool, a dead d
Paperback, 143 pages
Published August 23rd 2010 by Siglio
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Mike Puma
Feb 15, 2015 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Proustitute
Shelves: 2015

Doing this one justice will be a challenge. I’ll try to let Dutton tell you about this one herself.

This is one for fans of the minimal, writ large.

I dramatize small moments of my life on the phone or in a public restroom. I am all sorts of things in themselves. I am in character, I am in mint condition, I am in my head, I am in luck, I am in need, I am in vogue, I am in the red, I am in deep, I am in tune, I am in trouble, I am in control, I am in the way. Meanwhile, there are all kinds of decor
Dec 17, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing

We bulldoze small and inconvenient fields of strawberries or corn and replace them with the increasing complexity of everyday life: promised lands, the right of “choice”, boundaries, color-schemes, paper mills, etc.

Everything about this book screams. The cerulean sky book cover, contrailed and disrupted by lonely airliner shouts for attention. The single paragraph, 140-page narrative told by protagonist Mrs. Robertson is eardrum piercing in its dead-on, compact sentences that combine in depth
Apr 01, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it
Recommended to Miriam by: Mike Puma
After reading this, I can see why, as Mike describes in his
excellent review, this author's Attempts at a Life is nearly a book of epigrams and prose poems. That is really where Dutton's strength lies. There are so many great lines in this, especially in the first half. Unfortunately, I don't think that was quite sufficient to sustain the length of the book. Despite taking breaks in my reading (a tad difficult, given the momentum of the prose, but necessary to keep from ODing on the style) I fou
Feb 08, 2012 Lacey rated it it was amazing
I should make a disclaimer on this review that I am a graduate student engaged in a research project which determines how literary discussions of suburbia engage with postmodern theory on space. So I was reading this book with a pretty specific lens in mind.

And I freaking loved it.

I think this book would appeal to people who couldn't care less about any of the things I mentioned as well, so don't get me wrong. I recommend it. But if you like things like many distinct characters, clarity of plot
Christina Nicole
Apr 27, 2014 Christina Nicole rated it liked it
Suburban sprawl is a phenomenon that has the power to overtake landscapes and transform city limits, creating a sense of decentralization, which as a result births discontinuity and uncertainty regarding the boundaries of urban development. In her book Sprawl, Danielle Dutton writes toward the space inhabited by the architectural takeover of excessive urban development. Domesticated by Dutton’s language, Sprawl is an encapsulation of creature comforts, home appliances, household objects and ...more
Roz Ito
Oct 15, 2010 Roz Ito rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is a devastatingly funny and brilliant book that would totally destroy my fragile aspiring-writer ego if it weren't so damn pleasurable to read. I was smiling ear to ear the whole time and frequently laughing out loud, especially at the narrator's letters to her fellow suburban citizens. A seamless, prose-poem-dense satire of the American subdivision landscape and the inane, hilarious consumerism it inspires in its inhabitants. Dutton's tone reminds me of the garrulous, affable narrator of ...more
Apr 21, 2016 Tony rated it it was amazing
A single paragraph of barely-connected images and scenes that capture the slow motion crawl of thousands of tiny flashing things going by your mind's eye in a gently settling flurry of dust motes blown by sun-drenched suburban visions that breathe in security and out anxiety in specific rooms, streets, geospatial coordinates, and varying states of sexual conditions, ranging from forthright to the brutal socialist honesty of power mismanaged and unforgiven, as each period reaches around itself in ...more
Angela Stubbs
Jul 14, 2010 Angela Stubbs rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing! One of the best books I've read this year!
Frances Chiem
Mar 12, 2012 Frances Chiem rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
SPRAWL by Danielle Dutton feels and reads as if it could have been written thirty or forty years ago, yet it is also strangely contemporary. The novel is a stream of consciousness account of so many days in the life of a bored, nameless suburban housewife but this is not a manifesto against suburbia.

The narrator seems at once disinterested and fascinated with her surroundings. The novel, which is a single block of text with no paragraph breaks, is filled with descriptions of minutia

Her days of
Jul 05, 2016 Marina added it
Shelves: read-2016
HMPH. No doubt Danielle Dutton is a brilliant writer who can do whatever she wants (I read this because I'm an absolute fan of Margaret the First), but this went way over my head (I should not admit this so willingly, should I?). It read like rap-ish poetry (funny, thinking I've come here directly after having read Kate Tempest's novel The Bricks that Built the Houses), and it felt as a kind of Eisenstein edit-theory experiment, in the sense that sentences were so short and autonomous, that they ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Geoff marked it as to-read
"Danielle Dutton’s S P R A W L reads as if Gertrude Stein channeled Alice B. Toklas writing an Arcades Project set in contemporary suburbia."

UhWHAT? Okay sold.

Or, more elegantly, from our dear Proustitute:

"A kind of Mrs. Dalloway in objects, a kind of performance piece melding stream-of-consciousness with commentary on photographer Laura Letinsky’s domestic still lifes, and at times one of the most philosophical accounts of contemporary suburban American existence and the ever-trenchant fetters
Sep 21, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
A disclaimer: I am not well enough versed in the Virginia Woolf et al. school of writing to judge this book as it deserves to be judged. It is a solid block of prose-poem. There are no chapters, sections, or paragraphs. Just a stream of sentences bouncing between observations and introspections.

The narrator is a suburban housewife in what I'd guess to be the Chicago area. She lives in her idyllic house with her working husband. She does domestic chores with a slight sense of wonder. She interact
Mar 31, 2013 Faith rated it it was amazing
I didn't write a review immediately after reading this book because I didn't think I could claim to understand it. It's a brilliant experimentation of narrative to be sure, but when I've tried to describe it out loud, I end up sounding like a mumbling dope: "It doesn't really have a plot and it's told by this lady who lives in the suburbs and basically she just names all the things in her house and they sometimes change? And sometimes she strolls around the neighborhood? And it's super ...more
Sarah Schantz
May 17, 2016 Sarah Schantz rated it it was amazing
While I first read this book a few years ago for a writing class on narrative, I recently reread it for a workshop series I was teaching. It was even better the second time around. Imagine Virginia Woolf in contemporary suburban America, only maybe she's infused with one part Leonora Carrington and another part Emily Dickinson. The text sprawls across the pages in one continuous seemingly never-ending, yet quite ritualistic and deliberate pacing, and as it does, it explores the voyeuristic and ...more
Sep 08, 2016 Alison rated it it was amazing
So this book is a 140-page long paragraph of a suburban housewife's life experience. I don't really know what else I can say to describe it or make any assertions about this, but the book is timeless in that everything that happens has no temporal relation to anything else. Literally every "event" that happens in this book is just a description of something and we bounce around between different scenes with no transition. I don't know what to make of this book but I loved it and it left me ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Katia rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that the first reading didn't sit well with me. I found it so unlike anything that I've ever read and couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. I read a second time and sparks flew. I found wit, commentaries, observations, and humor. I enjoyed the here and now of each sentence and the playful use of words. I'll be reading it a third time I think.
Jul 02, 2012 Brad rated it it was amazing
S P R A W L is one of my favorite contemporary novels. I desperately need to read more of Dutton. She is a supreme talent. Love this book. I wrote more about it here.
Eric Obenauf
Mar 12, 2012 Eric Obenauf rated it really liked it
The suburbs: where "there's no real incentive to be sincere." It's as if all the emotions and action were stripped from suburban life so that all that was left were the stray fragments and memories. Witty, lyrical, and graceful.
Feb 16, 2016 Christine rated it it was amazing
This book is pure magnificence. If you like/love Lisa Robertson, Lyn Hejinian, and Gertrude Stein with a dash of Kathleen Stewart's "Ordinary Affects," I highly recommend it! I swam in Dutton's prose. I didn't ever want it to end.
Aug 18, 2010 Donald rated it it was amazing
Effortlessly elegant and sublimely beautiful ... it's all in her delectable details and delicate touch.
Jun 08, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
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Danielle Dutton is the author of Attempts at a Life and S P R A W L, which was a finalist for the Believer Book Award. Her work has appeared in Harper's, BOMB, NOON, Fence, etc. She is an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis and the founder and editor of Dorothy, a publishing project (having published Nell Zink, Renee Gladman, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Manuela Draeger, ...more
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