Matt's Reviews > Scorch Atlas

Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler
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M 50x66
's review
Dec 26, 2010

really liked it
Read in August, 2013

This is one of those end-of-the-world-again books that were all the rage a couple years ago: I'm thinking specifically of _Cataclysm, Baby_, but there were others, too, where the end of some sort of world is rehearsed over again. I read a bunch of those books, liked them, and found them compelling, but this one, more than any of the others, made me feel like shit.

I'm not sure why that is: it might be the emphasis on liquids and mold that did it for me? Or the dogs eating people? But something about the fantasies on display here really brought me down, mannnnn. Which I think is a credit to the book, really.

So what we get are alternating bits: first, a less than one page narrative where something falls from the sky. Maybe it's gravel, or glass, or mold, or toward the end, light, and that's how it ends. These alternate with longer narratives of people living in the aftermath of cataclysm, trying to live on. These have varying narrators, including what was to me a surprising number of moms (surprising because Butler is a dude). Then, later, there are lots of stories about brothers, which evoke Pete Markus work without ever being quite as linguistically dense. Not that these stories don't torment language, because they do-- this is dense stuff, compared to what you usually see. It just that there's also a narrative momentum, a place these stories reach. There are a couple with sisters-daughters, too.

So, good stuff. I'm already trying to forget my favorites.
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08/04/2013 marked as: read

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