Tag Archives: Blake Butler

Awful Interview: Blake Butler

25 Oct

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This is Blake Butler. He’s quite a guy! Most people know him for his writing (you know, Sky Saw, Nothing, Scorch Atlas, etc.), or his work up at Vice or HTMLGiant and whatnot. Which is pretty cool. But Blake is also just rad as hell as a person, which is why Atlanta is celebrating him and the release of his latest book, 300,000,000, tonight at the Highland Ballroom. Come and see?

Vouched: So, Blake. Your new book is called 300,000,000. Is that your favorite number? Why?

It’s the number of people in America, rounded down. So it’s my least favorite number. I think my favorite number is five. I’ve really claimed five as my favorite number before but for some reason it’s what came out when I typed my favorite without thinking, which is how I usually try to write everything. Wait, I hate five. I like zero, and I like eight.

Vouched: I’m worried that a lot of people are going to wrongly assume your least favorite number is your favorite number. Let’s clarify a couple other favorites, just so we can have all this stuff on the record. Color? Superhero? Gum?

Is it too whatever to say my favorite color is black? It’s black. But I hate the Cure, especially their music. When I was a kid my favorite superhero was Gambit, though I can’t remember why at all now. He actually looks kind of ridiculous and the guys they get to play him in the movies make him seem like a foof. I guess if I have a fav superhero still now it would be something like the planet in the original cartoon Transformers movie voiced by Orson Welles. It’s like huge and quiet and in the middle of nowhere and godlike without anything to god over. I like gum that tastes like fake fruit: cherries, apples, pears, the fruitiest fruits. I usually only like to chew gum for the 30 seconds it takes to make the flavor disappear.

Vouched: Rate these four gums: Super Bubble, Bazooka, Juicy Fruit, and a Nerds Gumball

How big is the Nerds gumball? Can you customize the ball? I like those gum things you can get that are so big they don’t fit in your mouth, but then you force it to fit anyway and then you have a new mouth size. Actually, the Nerds one struck me weird the way they cram all the Nerds in the center, which felt like chomping through a tiny melon to burst into a den of ants. No. Nerds Rope is tight, though. That’s not gum. Shit. I’mma go with Bazooka for its timelessness, and how it reminds me of the color of a brain. So, rank, okay: Bazooka, Juicy, Super, Nerds.

 

Vouched: Wow, you’ve kind of ruined Nerds gumballs for me with that imagery. Say, remember Warheads?

RIP Nerd Gumball. Say, for sure! I sold Warheads out of my backpack in seventh grade during a period when our class developed a minor economy based on who sold what candy for how much to whom. Like a little shit entrepreneur I bought a vat of Warheads from Sam’s Club with my mom  and sold them for a quarter each, mostly to this Mexican kid named Hugo who the only thing I ever remember him talking about was the show Martin. He would give me a dollar for the Warheads and go “You so crazy, Gina” and laugh to himself and walk away. On and on like that through the annals of time. I think I ended up eating most of the Warheads by myself instead of selling them, which is how I ended up here I guess. Did you eat Warheads? What color was your color?

 

Vouched: I liked the black cherry one I think. Oh, and blue raspberry. I mean damn, those things are good. Do they still make them? Also, when did you toss in your entrepreneurial hat for a writerly one? Or are they actually the same hat? Are you wearing two hats at once?

It’s a good question, because from the creative perspective, the kind of writing I spend most of my time on, it’s pretty much the inverse of entrepreneurial pursuit; I would be terrified to calculate the amount I’ve made per hour spread out over all the text I’ve banged out and how much I’ve been paid for it; but to be paid for that isn’t the point, and in another way it helps fuel the other half, which is writing for money, which I’ve basically been doing since I was seventeen; my first job besides mowing lawns and as a cashier at Media Play was writing reviews of independent albums for allmusic.com.

Once I realized I could use writing for the internet to make money and not have to get a real job that ate my time, which I could then use to force the majority of my time into the writing that I loved most and for a long time paid absolutely nothing, I made it my goal to do that as long and hard as I could. Somehow I’ve been able to cobble together enough work running my mouth on websites to make a decent living, and the time to salary rate is pretty great, since at this point I’m so used to busting out content that I end up with most of the day to my whole self. Which is the only way I want to live. And so yes, two hats at once, probably ten hats, or two dozen, though no fedoras please. My skull is too large for most real hats unfortunately.

 

Vouched: Really? What’s the circumference of your head? I have a good haberdashery – in case you want a hat.

I am afraid to measure it but I once received the gift of a one-size-fits-all hat that did not fit me.  I would like to be buried naked, holding only that hat. In the meantime, I will fashion trash bags into headbands and wear them in the sun.

 

Vouched: That sounds really rad. How would you describe your sense of fashion?

My sister says I dress like a bruise. My main rule is: try to dress like you don’t feel bloated. At home I wear what has been deemed “R. Kelly shorts.” If I had it my way I would always be wearing R. Kelly shorts. What is life.

 

Vouched: What do you think R. Kelly’s favorite number is? Do you think he’d like your book?

Some people would probably guess his favorite number is 69. I know it is actually 90210. I hope he would like my book, because he dies in it. For some reason I’m now imagining R. Kelly sitting on the shitter reading The Bible. I think it’s time I let myself get a tattoo.

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New Love: The Letters Festival

5 Nov

The Letters Festival

Something grand is about to descend upon Atlanta. Something. Damn. Grand.

It’s the Letters Festival.

Focusing on supporting and spreading the [good] word about small press literature (*swoon*), on November 14th-16th the Letters Festival will be hosting series of readings, workshops, author talks and other dreamy things in Atlanta. Their line-up will make you salivate: Jericho Brown, Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Blake Butler, & Matt DeBenedictis, to name a few

Obviously we, the people of Vouched, are über pumped about this and want you to be too! So over the next few weeks we will be doing everything in our power to drum up the excitement and anticipation in your little hearts.

Why?

BECAUSE [WE LIVE LIFE IN CAPSLOCK AND] THIS IS AWESOME.

Learn more about the organizers of the Letters Festival here. Checkout their indiegogo campaign and then donate to them here. Then follow them on every social media platform. Do it!

A Very Vouched Thank You For a Very Vouched Birthday.

26 Jul

Man oh man, it’s hard to believe it’s been a week since the 2nd Very Vouched Birthday party at the Goatfarm. I’d really like to take a moment to say thank you to all of those involved. (There were a lot of people involved!)

First-off, a tremendous thank you to the hardworking team at the Wren’s Nest and their high school editorial team for volunteering throughout the evening’s festivities! Without their help the event would have disintegrated into chaos! Most notably I would like to thank my partner-in-planning, Jessie Matheson, the organization’s Education Director. Her visionary work with the Wren’s Nest  brought  great focus and energy to the festivities, and her assistance in matching our readers with their reading selections was absolutely indispensable.

Speaking of indispensable…

Question: WHERE WOULD I BE WITHOUT TYLER GOBBLE AND LAYNE RANSOM [AND NICK STURM]??????

Answer: Probably sad, somewhere crying!

They drove all the way down from Indiana [and up from Tallahassee] to help out with the event and party hardy! That is dedication! That is friendship! They ran the table without a hitch! I am eternally in their debt!

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Notable things that pertain to this event that start with the letter “G”:

Gratitude

Goatfarm

Here’s a fact: Vouched Atlanta would be a shadow of what it is if it weren’t for the  unending support and assistance that we’ve received from the good folks at the Goatfarm over the course of the past few years. Their crew is a total dream to work with — taking care of all of the production that goes into the venue for our readings (staging! press! chairs! lights! sound! booze!). Even better – they really, really believe in Vouched. It’s a total honor to be affiliated with them. I’m excited to continue working with them in the years to come.

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HUGE thank you’s to champions of literature Matt Bell and Blake Butler for highlighting the evening with their work and words, and for supporting independent literature with more passion and fervor than any other authors I know. This was mentioned at the party, but… my first two book orders for Vouched Books Atlanta were for How They Were Found and Scorch Atlas. It’s been really amazing to watch Blake and Matt’s writing gain momentum over the past two years. Hosting them both was a humbling honor.

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THANK YOU to Myke Johns and Jayne O’Connor for co-hosting throughout the evening. You charmed everyone’s pants off!

Many many thank yous to the local authors and tutors who read the work of the KIPP Scribes: Sue Gilman, Patrick Shaffner, Jessie Matheson, Rachael Maddux, Johnny Drago, Julian Modugno, John Carroll, Terra McVoy, Thomas Wheatley, Jason Mallory, Jamie Allen, Myke Johns, Brooke Hatfield, Lain Shakespeare, Bruce Covey, Amy Herschleb, Molly Dickinson, Jayne O’Connor, Amelia Lerner, and Amy McDaniel. You really brought the stories to life and it meant so much to the scribes in attendance to hear that!

Maybe one of my favorite parts of the evening was revealing the GORGEOUS 2nd Vouched Birthday poster designed by Lacey Valentini and screen-printed by Brett Andrew Miotti of the Peregrine Consortium. Lacey has designed the bulk of our promotional collateral over the past two years and is solely responsible for the visual identity and brand that Vouched Atlanta has. The poster stands as a tribute to that. If you weren’t able to order or purchase one at the event – don’t worry! A limited number are still available for purchase. You can do that here.

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Thank you also to the evening’s sponsors, whose contributions and donations really brought the community together: Scoutmob, Creative Loafing, BURNAWAY, Marmalade Bakeshop, BANG! Arts and Promotions, Atlanta Movie Tours, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Dad’s Garage, The High Museum, The Inman Park Squirrel Census, Wonderroot, and MOCA GA.

A heartfelt thanks to the artists who so generously donated their artwork to our silent art auction and to BURNAWAY for their assistance in organizing it: Brooke Hatfield, Lydia Walls, John Carroll, Bethany Collins, Nathan Sharratt, and Jessica Caldas.

Thank you to the local organizations who helped spread the word! BANG! Arts and Promotion, Scoutmob, AM 1690, Creative Loafing, Common Creative, ArtsATL, BURNAWAY, Criminal Records, Write Club Atlanta, Scene Missing Magazine and John Carroll for our third awful interview.

Last but not least, thank you to the Atlanta creative community at large for your unbridled enthusiasm for words. You make everything worth it.

A Very [Second] Vouched Birthday F.A.Q.

8 Jul

After blitzing the internet with Single Sentence Reviews, Raffle Prize Announcements, and other promotional things for about a month, I realize you may have some questions about the upcoming Vouched ATL festivities. So here’s our second ever Vouched Presents FAQ for our second ever birthday.

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When does this shin-dig start?  
7pm, approximately. I estimate readings to begin between 7:15 and 7:30.

Is there a cost for admission?

Yes, this year it will cost $5 to get you into the Vouched Birthday party BUT your $5 gets you an automatic raffle ticket for some our our fabulous prizes! Every additional $5 you spend at the birthday party (on posters, Vouched merchandise or Wren’s Nest Merchandise) gets you an additional raffle ticket!

What are the totally sweet raffle prizes? 

Oh, you want a list? Fine. Here you go:

• Ticket vouchers for you and a friend to Dad’s Garage
• A Wren’s Nest gift pack and personal tour of the house museum for you and friends!
• Ticket vouchers for Atlanta Movie Tours
• Tickets to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
• A family membership to MOCA GA
• A membership to the High Museum!
• The ultimate gift package from the Inman Park Squirrel Census!
• Vouched Books gift pack!
• A year-long membership to Wonderroot!

How do I win those totally sweet raffle prizes?

Great question! Participants in our raffle will receive 1 raffle ticket for every $5 donated or spent on Wren’s Nest Publishing Co., or Vouched merchandise. (So say, for instance, you buy a book from me that costs $10. For that you will receive not only your book, but 2 raffle tickets! Which could win you all sorts of amazing prizes!)

I heard there’s a silent auction too. What the dealy-yo?

BURNAWAY is sponsoring the Birthday party by curating and organizing a silent auction of literary-centric artwork throughout the evening. It’s gorgeous stuff! You should be excited!

And this commemorative 2nd birthday poster, what’s up with that?

To celebrate the second birthday of Vouched Books in Atlanta the über talented Lacey Valentini designed a commemorative 2 year birthday poster that will be printed by Brett Andrew Miotti. A limited number will be for sale at the festivities for $25. The design is a combination of every poster Lacey has designed for the reading series since it launched in July 2011. If you’ve read for Vouched Presents in Atlanta before check it out, your name is on it! Pre-order your copy here.

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Wait, so who is reading?

Matt Bell and Blake Butler will be reading original works later in the evening (starting at around 8:30p or so). But before that 20 Atlantan authors will be reading the work of the Wren’s Nest Kipp Scribes. Those readers include:

Rachael Maddux
Johnny Drago
Julian Modugno
Scott Daughtridge
Sue Gilman
Patrick Shaffner
Jessie Matheson
Terra McVoy
Thomas Wheatley
Jason Mallory
Jamie Allen
Myke Johns
Jayne O’Connor
Brooke Hatfield
Lain Shakespeare
Bruce Covey
Amy Herschleb
Molly Dickinson
Amelia Lerner
Amy McDaniel

Where do my donations go?

All donations will go to the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.

Where can I learn more about the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.?  

You can learn more about the Wren’s Nest Publshing Co. here!

What if I get hungry? Sometimes I get hungry! 

I hope you get hungry! Engorge yourself with food from The Good Food Truck, popsicles from the King of Pops, and sweets from Marmalade Bake Shop!

What’s the Goatfarm, are there goats?

In their own words: The Goat Farm Arts Center is a major visual & performing arts center in Atlanta. What was once an underutilized historic site went through a major expansion and was given new form in 2009. Part of the expansion opened up 20,000 square feet dedicated to five new performance and exhibition halls and spaces. The Center now hosts classical & contemporary music concerts, traditional and experimental theatrical performances, film screenings, contemporary dance performances and art exhibitions.

And yes, there are still real-life goats! There is no longer a turkey. (R.I.P. Kingsley.)

The poster has a lot of balloons. Will there be balloons?

Yes, there will be balloons. There will not be bears.

Are we going to party? Really?

Yes. DUH.

A Field Guide to Blake Butler

3 Dec

SkySaw

Blake Butler’s Sky Saw will be released tomorrow by New York Tyrant. Once again Butler delivers a stunning exploration of narrative. Over at Creative Loafing Atlanta you’ll find a field guide to the six books Butler has released since January 2009 including Sky Saw.  Here’s a sampling:

SKY SAW [Fiction; Tyrant Books, 200pp]

Description: Humanity is numbered and contained in obscene rooms and landscapes, constantly observed and humiliated. Person 1180 — a woman — gives birth to innumerable wretched children. Person 2030 — a child — escapes from the only room he has known to spend 37 years wandering in darkness.

Recurring imagery/subjects: Darkness, years, white, foam

Quote: “He pulled at the door and banged at the door and shook himself against the face of the door unchanging until there was nothing left about his finders or his hands. He turned around and found the world.”

Dimensions: 7.8 x 6 x 0.9 inches

Read the rest.

Exits Are at Artifice

27 Feb

It took no time at all to fall completely in love with this Exits Are project from Mike Meginnis, a series of collaborative stories written in the manner of old school text adventure/roleplaying/Choose Your Own Adventure stories, hosted online by Artifice Magazine. Basically, a match made in heaven.

Here’s the run down:

A text adventure is a game that takes place in prose. The computer describes a world to you one room at a time, writing in the second person. “You stand in the center of a cool, dark cave,” says the computer. “Exits are north, south, east, and west.” The computer waits for you to tell it what you want to do. “Go east,” you might say. Or if there is a key, you might say “take key.” The computer parses your commands as best it can and tells you what happens next. […]

I love text adventures, but they usually disappoint me. I wanted a way to make them more open-ended, less about puzzle-solving and more about language: its weirdness, its beauty. So I started playing a game with some of the writers I knew. Using gchat, I pretend to be a text adventure. The other writer is the player. We use the form of the text adventure to collaborate on some kind of strange, fun narrative. The only rule is that we take turns typing. We never discuss what we’re going to do in advance, so the results are improvisational and surprising/exciting/stressful/upsetting for both participants. Every time, the player does things I never could have seen coming.

So far stories by Matt Bell, Blake Butler, and Tim Dicks have been posted with an equally amazing troupe of writers on deck: Aubrey Hirsch, Brian Oliu, Nicolle Elizabeth, AD Jameson, Robert Kloss, &c.

This is something you want to follow.

VouchedATL at the Decatur Book Festival

2 Sep

Hey  y’all! In case you haven’t heard, I’m going to be setting up shop at the Decatur Book festival with Wink this weekend. We’ll be in our booth, A126 from 9am to 6pm tomorrow and from 12pm to 6pm on Sunday! We have all sorts of fun and tom-foolery planned including visiting Atlanta-based writers, poetry for $1, and a literary quiz show, among other shenanigans! Please come stop by. We will have so much fun!

While you’re there, you should check out the tons of wonderful readings going on (including readings by Blake Butler and Bruce Covey) check them all out on the schedule page!

SSR #12 of 15: Scorch Atlas

19 Jul

Christopher first Vouched for Scorch Atlas way back in the day. When I read his single sentence review I wanted to prove him wrong… but he was right.  This book has been hewn into me.

So, as Christopher said: You will not survive this book.

You can buy it from Featherproof.

Vouched ATL @ Artlantis with the Solar Anus reading series

8 Jun


This past Saturday I had the honor of setting up my first Vouched Books table at the third annual Artlantis Festival. The Solar Anus Reading series and I shared the booth for the day, which meant I got to spend the entire day with Amy McDaniel. It was a complete success. Books were sold, poems were read, mint-bourbon-lemonade and laughs were had, friends stopped by, and the whole day was full of merriment. Here are some pictures of our tom-foolery: 

A huge thank you to all of our friends who came by to support us, and all of the new friends we made. Special thanks to Jamie Iredell, Mark Basehore, and Blake Butler. And thank you most of all to Amy McDaniel for the lemonade, sandwiches, and all-around magnificence.

SSM: wigleaf Top 50 [Very] Short Stories

11 May

I’m going to take a break from vouching specific stories today to instead vouch 50. The wigleaf Top 50 [Very] Short Stories of 2011 list was just released a few days ago, and I wanted to point everyone to it.

And, okay. So 2011 isn’t even half way over yet, but wigleaf is aware of that, and the award is always somewhat retro in that 2010 sort of way.

But I want to take a quick moment and talk about how awesome this list is, not only for the readers, but for the authors who made it, because I’ll embarrass myself right now and say when Andrew from Freight Stories called me in ’09 to tell me I’d made it, I was all, “Oh, cool. That’s pretty rad. Thanks for calling.” I had never heard of wigleaf, and only knew a couple of the other authors on the list. And let’s face it, I was kind of an ass.

If you’re reading this now, and you’re on this list, and you’re thinking that: don’t do that.

Let me tell you now, there are 1000s of stories published every year that fit the requirements for this award, and I’m not just talking about Ol’ Shmoe publishing on his blog. I’m talking stories published in really incredible online journals like PANK, The Collagist, Used Furniture, Lamination Colony, Word Riot, storySouth, Abjective, &c. &c. &c. Some real competition. And from those 1000s, the editors of wigleaf cull a longlist of 200 stories, and from there, a guest editor chisels it to their favorite 50.

If the process isn’t enough to convince you where you are, look at some of the names around you: Blake Butler, Matt Bell, Tina May Hall, Tadd Adcox, Aaron Burch, Roxane Gay, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Matthew Salesses, Jim Ruland, Amber Sparks, Terese Svoboda, James Yeh, David Peak, Kyle Minor, &c. &c. &c.

If you don’t know these names yet, then get reading. I didn’t know most of them a couple years ago either, and now I feel like I’m just catching up to where I could be as a writer and a reader if I had.

To all the writers who made this year’s top 50, a huge congrats to you, and I hope you recognize the honor of it. To all the readers out there, spend some time with this list. You’ll find in it the tremblings of a new literature.