Book Art Materials and Methods: Pushing Cruddy Swag for EVER by Blake Butler

Ever by Blake Butler

I'm FTP'ing the files for Blake Butler's EVER to the printer as we speak. I'm also uploading the book trailer to youtube for your viewing pleasure. I'm not entirely sure what that means or what this compressed information has to go through to get to you. I'm picturing an overgrown Safaricom hub in downtown Nairobi, rusted relay switches, corroded wires beneath geothermal vents in the Atlantic, or maybe it's all scrambled in a cloud, mixed and sifted through other people's jank. Maybe it looks like the cover of the book itself (left). Regardless, it's pushing it's way up. The end product will be a book object which hopefully you'll one day be holding in your hands. For now there's this, these images. I'm not sure what to say about Ever so I grabbed a bag of Brachs Candy Corn that has been sitting on our shelf since Halloween and it's Thanksgiving tomorrow and for all I know something small and furry or scaly has been living off them. They are all pixelated and disintegrating to orange and yellow and white sweaty crumbs of sugar. [Beat.] I just ate half the bag and now feel sick and haven't said anything about Ever. There's not much to say about it without ruining it or explaining what shouldn't be necessary to explain. These images herein best reflect how I feel about it.

I've only met Blake Butler in person once. He ordered nachos as an entree for dinner at some Irish Pub in Midtown Manhattan. Then we played poker. Most of what I know about Blake Butler is through his writing and his blog. As I was writing that last sentence, a monkey scampered across the tin roof over my head making the hair on the back of my neck bristle. There are no monkeys in Ever. Just a series of rooms and a narrator and people she thinks about but doesn't interact with much. She's not terribly reliable. I think Blake also said once he used to be fat. Like really fat. Unless I dreamt that. I'm kind of writing now like Blake might in his blog, but when it comes to writing writing, he's serious. I won't even try to imitate. I think his place was ransacked by a tornado last year. It kind of shows. The book is loaded with impending chaos and entropy and bright light and grief and things going to shit (in a beautiful way). He pushes the envelope of perception with every sentence, not just pushing, but folding, like salt-water taffy, folding inward on itself, spitting bits, shedding, peeling, turning your skin inside out, eviscerating it to crud, exposing any undeveloped film to the light, simmering in it's own juices, reducing it all down to pure unadulterated language. It's a fucking juggernaut really, that toils in place, deliberate and steadfast.

I said some other things about Ever, but then I went back and erased them. Some of these things I jotted down in a notebook while I was reading the manuscript on the plane back from Rome (I'm not done blogging about SPQR BTW). But not all of it makes sense to me now. I wrote "Swallowed all of me that I could reach," quoting from the book I think, and also that, "their air became a gong." I also wrote that it's like a fucked-up Russian doll. My favorite line that sticks in memory is, "Fodder for my sorry sore." Anyway. Without further ado, here's some images from it. If you want to buy any, they are all $150 USD, payable by M-pesa, or PayPal (to my Calamari email). Just the bribe to the custom's officer to send it to you from Nairobi is probably half that. Your generous support will enable me to run the press poolside, gin and tonic in hand. Or to pay for Peter Markus' son's hockey uniform. Brother Markus is the one sitting in the cold of Detroit doing the dirty work. If Peter is all about mud, then Blake is all about crud. I'm stalling for time because the video is still uploading. You'll also get a copy of Ever when it's out in another month or two. Ever is about as much a commodity as crotch shampoo. The "drawings" were done on scraps of paper and come unframed. But they are original pieces and I'll do my best to package them nicely, to avoid unplanned distress. The cover is all digital, so it's not for sale. You get that with the book. These other images also come in the book, along with a dozen or two more, but they are smaller and in black and white. That's all I can say for my part. I'll let the text speak for itself.

EVER 14 [text from original manuscript, drain and drain plug, water-soluble graphite and scotch tape]

Ever 14



EVER 15 [text from Ever, lid of discarded washing machine in East Village, beard trimmings, Mexican tin candle, wax,
appropriated images from Radiohead's In Rainbows box set, water-soluble graphite, ink]

Ever 15


EVER 16 [dusty bra from Hasidic lingerie shop in LES, Mexican tin candle, scotch tape,
water-soluble graphite, ink splotches]

Ever 16



EVER 17 (text from Ever, graffiti, decaying board, residual adhesion, glitter glue, ink,
appropriated images from biology text)




EVER 18 [text from Ever, NYC subway billboard (for "Bodies" exhibition), glitter glue, residual adhesion,
old map on papyrus I think of unknown origin, ink, pencil]

Ever 18



EVER 24 [moldy bathtub rim and missing tiles, plastic, appropriated art from Radiohead's In Rainbows box set,
water-soluble graphite, ink]

Ever 24



EVER 26 [ink, spillage from broken ballpoint pen, glitter glue, children's glue, graphite]

Ever 25



EVER 26 [ending text from Ever that I unceremoniously wanted to cut and Blake couldn't let go so this is the compromise,
children's glue, beard trimmings, tissue paper, distressed photo of broken computer monitor, found x-ray,
scotch tape, graphite]

Ever 26


EVER Book Trailer [featuring Blake Butler's mother reading excerpts, background music by me and these two guys I lost touch with, imagery from the book and some photos Blake sent me, porn hopefully distressed beyond recognition, footage from where I live with guts exposed (yes, that's an open sewer behind our toilet, and steel wool stuffed in the pipe holes, not sure why, vermin perhaps), fuck it's still uploading, help me somebody, as I just told Blake, it's lke pushing solid waste through a kinked and sun-bleached garden hose. ]


P.S. In the time it took me to fail to upload this video, Blake scooped me and made a trailer of his own. The fucker just couldn't wait. These kids. He ripped me ripping him off. You can hear his mother better in this one, and he kept the better passage for himself. And there's more titties in his, and god knows what else, I hope it's not his. It will likely get pulled by youtube so watch it while you can. it's all good. No matter how you slice it. Like sausage, corned beef hash or shepard's pie. You can't cut a piece of it that's bad, and it just keeps coming. So while you are waiting for me to make a connection to the outside world so I can upload the trailer, you can watch his.

P.P.S. The files for the book didn't FTP with much success either. Maybe the cover made it, but the body is at 21%. But it will get there. Maybe not in time for Xmas, but by January 2009 Ever can be yours.



(c) 2008 Derek White