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Three Hundred Million

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  802 ratings  ·  63 reviews
An unforgettable novel of an American suburb devastated by a fiendish madman—the most ambitious and important work yet by “the 21st century answer to William Burroughs” (Publishers Weekly).

Blake Butler’s fiction has dazzled readers with its dystopian dreamscapes and swaggering command of language. Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the
Paperback, 456 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Harper Perennial
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Average rating 3.14  · 
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 ·  802 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Oct 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unable-to-finish
DNF at 2%.

Taken from the synopsis: Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the consciousness of two men in the shadow of a bloodbath: Gretch Gravey, a cryptic psychopath with a small army of burnout followers, and E. N. Flood, the troubled police detective tasked with unpacking and understanding his mind. Sounds good, right?!

Headache photo: headache tumblr_lkjqw23Eh21qafrh6.gif

This book...the whopping two percent that I made it through...made my head hurt. I highlighted like crazy. I will only share one example of what
Nate D
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
The premise is brutally simple: a Mansonoid cult/serial-killer type determines his life's purpose and path to the creation of a better world: he must kill every single person in America. Noting the 5-part structure before reading, particularly a "Part about the Killing", I recognized in this some kind of a response to Bolaño's 2666, and sure enough, that novel provides the epigraph to this. I questioned whether Butler's barrage of mutilated word-sculptures could measure up to the tricky ...more
Jordan West
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014, library
Since gleefully discovered the automatic writings of the surrealists in middle school, I have spent the years following reading all manner of unconventional, experimental, avant-garde, visionary, and post-modern literature, and few books have proved to be as challenging as this one. The first hundred or so pages are an endurance test of the first order, so far removed from traditional literary (and even grammatical) conventions as to appear as nigh unreadable word salad, and I say that as ...more
Ryan Bradford
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not going to pretend that I know exactly what I read. This book could be about nothing, but it also could be about everything. It's about virtual identities; a personal testament to the simultaneous frustration and constant accepting/revoking of modern, American life. It's cyclical and never ending.

It's a book written from dementia's point of view.

It's a page-turner (honestly).

There's a lot to say about the violence in 300,000,000. A lot to say about the squeamishness. About the difficult
Marc Nash
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've seen this book compared with 2666 and House of Leaves but it actually reminds me more of William Burroughs' Cities of the Red Night and David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress. Burroughs for the assault on conventional language and the construction of imagery through words that don't necessarily offer a visual image. Markson for the solipsism. Solipsism might be an odd thing to claim for a novel that is ostensibly about two characters, a death cult leader with the aim to kill all ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars]

I really, really tried to like this book. House of Leaves meets American Psycho meets Dean Corll meets Charles Manson meets Dennis Nilsen... it sounded directly up my alley and is an ambitious concept. But large sections really bored me, that special kind of boredom where you're afraid to admit that you're bored because it might mean that you're not intelligent or avant-garde enough to "get it." So here, I'm admitting it -- I was bored. The whole poetic insanity
Benoit Lelièvre
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
300,000,000 is the first literary event in the post-David Foster Wallace era. Whatever you might expect of that novel , it's most-likely not what you think it is. It's bound to become the anthem-novel of a generation of disowned young intellectuals who afe angry at America. Blake Butler wrote a transcendent, ground-breaking and apocalyptic book inspired by Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Bataille, Sigmund Freud, James Ellroy and, of course, David Foster Wallace. 300,000,000 is magnificent like only ...more
Kyle Miner
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Containing probably the most urgently horrifying apocalypse I've read in a book, I haven't had a novel burrow into my brain in a way that made me almost anxiously need to keep reading it like this since I first read House of Leaves way back. That's both a fitting and misleading comparison, as Three Hundred Million starts off by playing with form in a similar way (footnotes that comment on the text, then start to be in dialogue with other footnotes; different layers of "reality" experienced ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I shouldn't have to explain why you should read something with the sentence, "Our architectures had already forgotten us."
Peter Landau
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At first I only read a page or two of 300,000,000, a story about murdering everyone in the United States, during a lull in my day or while waiting for my kids to fall asleep so I could sneak out of their room before I fell asleep with them. I was uncommitted. The horrific scenes of cult mass murder was even more visceral than the visceral writing as I started to doze between my young innocent children. I kept reading. The commentary helped to anchor me to the newness of Blake Butler’s prose (the ...more
From this list.

Rarely do I do this, but I am putting this out there right now: This is not a book for everyone.

Stylistically it's like... um. 2666, House of Leaves, and Infinite Jest and (dare I say it...?) Twin Peaks somehow copulated and created this Blake Butler baby. It takes some patience to read, but more patience required for the subject matter which is about murder. And that's actually putting it politely.

Gretch Gravey has been arrested for murder and throughout his
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-read
This is Blake Butler at his best. Pieces of his previous works are all present and woven into a huge, sprawling, grotesque, subconscious, narcotic novel. A possessed madman (Gretch Gravey) vows to kill everyone in America, and the story begins as the police (most notably detective E.N. Flood) arrest him.

2666 is a clear influence. The epigraph comes from Bolano's book. Both books are divided into five parts with very similar titles 2666's "The Part About the Crimes" has become "The Part About
Izzy Pottinger
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dense, harsh, and harrowing. Not for those who need a plot driven story with winners. Butler only cares about language and blood. The novel took me on a violent, apocalyptic acid trip that I won't recover from. If you appreciate Samuel Beckett but wish his works would give you better nightmares, read this.
David Bridges
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a feat. I don't mean that as a bad thing. Even though I read it through to the end, I know there are so many things to go back and reread. Warren Ellis called it something like "Poetry of the insane". I'm not big in comparing authors to other authors unless all I can think of but it is different and the same as his own work. I have read 3 books by Butler (Scorch Atlas and Ever) and I consider myself a fan. He expresses a dark/nihilistic side about society that enjoy reading ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it, it's just not my kind of book. I need the words and sentences of my novels to amount to something, to come together and move the story forward. But for the first 113 pages I found my mind wondering to random things as my eyes glossed over the meaningless jumble of words that dominated most of the page until I finally reached the tiny section at the end where Flood would essentially explain to me (in proper English) what Gravey had just spent two pages mumbling incoherently ...more
Josiah Miller
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is like Roberto Bolano on bath salts.

This book houses all of the debauchery where Gravey and Flood become aware through hallucinatory violence that they are contain within this novel without a passage way of escape. The reader can go further down inside the house through the sod but can't find a way through the delusional language to leave the house either. The pages are mirrors that reflect America inside each person's home and where we reside is what we embody and reflect back from
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really took some time to engage with this book, and wow, it was worth it. Nothing could have prepared me for this read. I was perplexed, enthralled, even overwhelmed at times by Butler's prose, and working to parse the text and figure things out was what made it so much fun. Part of me felt like a psycho too for enjoying it so much. Don't get me wrong, there were parts that dragged, but overall I found much pleasure in enduring the onslaught of language, and by the end I no longer felt like the ...more
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Inside the black I could still see the land of the world surrounding empty, though here behind the land I saw the long veil of human history knitting in the light we'd left behind, a scrolling ream of memory-dimension beyond both time and space where all our lives fed through the same lens, the sunning voice burning even the glass out into air, and from the air then the burning image beyond all color, code, or era."
Honestly, I don't know how to rate this book.

I liked it a lot, but it was too *vague hand motions* for me to give it a high rating? But I also can't give it a low rating because it's a book that's going to simmer in my brain for a while? And that's a mark of a good book (not like Robert Newcomb-level THIS WAS SHIT AND THAT'S WHY I'VE REMEMBERED IT FOREVER) to me?

Mostly I was put off for the last 1/3 by the constant stream-of-consciousness cultist bleating (which started off compelling and then
Samuel Moss
Right off the bat: Three Hundred Million is the most full, most fully realized and the most consistently engaging novel that Blake Butler has written in his career to date.

For those who have read Butler’s work before, Three Hundred Million is very much written in his instantly recognizable style. The writing is often opaque, emotionless, as if written by some mad, cosmic force and not for human consumption. In many ways his style has remained totally rock solid, while everything around it has
S. Hughes
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
while reading unreading I came by not coming, virgin sperm teeming inside my seventh self. Moist lips spat stream of consciousness at such velocity as to become unconscious murmuring, gibberish prayers to hipster madman god called Frank, unifying all flesh in nothingness. Imagery like my face in a shattered mirror showing me the same porno seven times from slightly adjusted angles, watching bodies plowed and harvested ad nauseum, touching myself in worship to the Book. All events unfold ...more
Adam Rodenberger
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: surreal, experimental
So, I'm a big fan of Butler's writing. It would not be wrong to say that "Scorch Atlas" fundamentally changed the way I approach my own writing; language became super interesting all over again. And of course I was stoked to see a new book of Butler's coming out. The premise seemed pretty excellent and it was a hefty tome, both in size and use of text.

It started off as an incredibly engaging narrative that flowed well. I was in it, deep. Hooked hard by the disgust I felt at some of the passages
Mar 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was on page 289 before I finally gave up. Very close to the ending, yes, but I just couldn't take it any more. If I'm this far into it, shouldn't I give more of a shit how it ends? Shouldn't I actually care, even a little bit, what happens to at least one of the book's characters? Does this pretentious novel even have any characters?

It doesn't. I didn't. And I don't.

I enjoy reading too much to waste the time on a book that bores me.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I like Blake Butler's other work and was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, I wish I'd enjoyed it more than I did. It's certainly his most ambitious work, to date, but I feel it could have been edited down quite a bit. I really was trudging through it towards the end, just wanting it to be over with. There's definitely a great smaller novel within this big one that takes chances in a very House-of-Leaves-meets-2666 way.
Oct 26, 2014 added it
Shelves: dnf
Could not manage it. I'll have to shelve this with House of Leaves and just assume that all the fever-dream phrasesmithery adds up to something beyond easy impressions of filth and brainless carnage.
Hakim Sermé
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A very disturbing book to be honest. I won't lie Three Hundred Million is definitely not for everybody and I suggest you read it with some Aspirin. The book is, however, a page-turner, although disturbing the writing fits the protagonist who appears to be just as confused as we are if not more. The "readable " paragraphs though, show you the amount of work it took to write and I wan appreciate that.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing accomplishment. Blake Butler has managed to convey through words what it must feel like to live inside a sick and tortured psyche.
Reading this book is like taking a long tour through the mind of a violent and paranoid schizophrenic. It's disturbing, confusing, difficult, and awesome.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I just couldn't do it. I admire the writer's efforts, but it was just too tedious
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Written in a manic stream-of-consciousness flow as diary entries from minds fractured and deranged, 3000,000,000 is at times poetic and profound, vulgar with visceral gore, illuminating, and impenetrable. The main characters are Gretch Gravey, a psychopathic mass murderer/cult leader, and Detective E.N. Flood, the officer tasked with combing over Garvey's rambling writings and testimonies to penetrate the meaning behind his horrific crimes.

As Flood struggles to understand the insanity of Gravey
May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
First things first. I attempted to read this book about six months ago and stopped after about 30 pages. The language was too dense, disjointed, so I put it down, figuring I needed to be in the right head space to appreciate this style of writing.

This time around I made it through 150 pages. I was more open to the prose on the second go, and made it through The Part about Gravey, alternating between compulsive and disinterested reading. After reading 30 or so pages into the Part about the
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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.
“I put the girl’s teeth shaped like my mother’s teeth into my own mouth and on her teeth I chewed until I heard my own teeth in my head breaking and I swallowed and I smiled.” 2 likes
“the running bead of loss of our pulling the color from our hair, pulling the flat out of the skin into the bunched meat of long windows in us purpled over and caved in and laughed and asked and rinsed off and here again Flood is laughing and the floods of Flood are watching Flood. Here again Flood sees Flood forced forever left unending.” 2 likes
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