Donald's Reviews > Severance: Stories

Severance by Robert Olen Butler
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May 05, 08

Read in May, 2008

This is an incredibly interesting collection of short-short stories based around the idea of what would someone say in the minute-and-a-half of "consciousness" that a head is supposed to retain after beheading. Sounds kind of gruesome, but it's not a horrific collection by any means. Assuming that a person in a heightened state can utter 160 words per minute and applying that to the 1.5 minutes of consciousness, the author tells stories that are all exactly 240 words in length of characters, both real and imagined, who have been beheaded in one way or another throughout history. We have the usual suspects of Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI and so on, but also Medusa, a chicken, and the author himself. For a look at a precise command of the English language can do, this is an excellent collection. Even for someone like me, who is not a big fan at all of stream of consciousness, this is a really good collection.
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