Sunday, January 20, 2013

Robert Olen Butler's Fiction

Garrison Keillor highlighted writer Robert Olen Butler on today's "Writer's Almanac" on NPR, and I'll take the occasion to review my own appreciation of him, written in 2007.  That article begins:

Four books by Butler that I've enjoyed.
I'm always a little afraid when I start to read fiction by Robert Olen Butler. I know he's going to draw me into a corner of our world made strange in some wonderful way through a character's eyes. I know that he'll surprise me. I also know that, looking back on the story or novel, I'll see that the surprise was inevitable, usually implied from the start. I know well the feeling of delighted anticipation that often grows as we approach the climax. But I also know its opposite, a feeling of strong dread that makes me regret having started in the first place.

Most wonderfully, Butler's fiction often builds towards something dreadful that turns into a something joyful, surprising, and still inevitable. That worked on a grand scale in his novel MR. SPACEMAN, and repeatedly in short stories, which are his specialty....

Read the rest:

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