Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: "300,000,000" by Blake Butler

300,000,000 by Blake Butler is quite the book, and I am likely to not read another one like it for the rest of the year. It is filled with chaotic poetry and brutal violence, and the only real flaw it has its impenetrable vagueness, and even that can be argued by people with different views of the book. Butler’s novel has two obvious comparisons that are clear influences on the writing. One is 2666 by Roberto Bolano, which I have talked about endlessly throughout my reviews, but I won’t get too much into here, just to say that Butler’s novel shares the book’s five part structure, appalling murder scenes and obsession with death, as well as it having an epigraph taken from the book to open it. The other is Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which it shares its Russian doll-like structure that folds in on itself, creating the stuff of nightmares. While it never reaches the levels of those two books, it is safe to say that 300,000,000 is way scarier than each of them. It begins, if it really has one, with the capture of Gretchen Gravey, a mass murderer whose body count is in the hundreds. He, along with an unknown number of teenage accomplices have murder countless numbers of people. He doesn’t speak, and shows no signs of guilt or acknowledgment of his crimes. Flood, a detective on the brink of a breakdown, is assigned to the case, which includes reading Gravey’s many manifestos which begin to push him over the edge, and has unseen consequences for the rest of the world. A synopsis for this book is rather useless, since it works more an emotional level than anything else. In its attempts to break down language and our view of the world and our self, it obtains a few rather horrifying notions that I found hard to shake, with the commentary that made sense of things all but disappearing halfway in. It is not a book for everyone, but I do recommend checking it out if you want something new and fiercely original.

Rating: 4/5

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