Master your Minecraft
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list


    Best Books of the Year | December 10, 2014

    Mary Jo Schimelpfenig: IMG Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi of 2014



    Here are the books that knocked my socks off in 2014. All of them would make great gifts; each of them was truly something that evoked that... Continue »

    spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

More copies of this ISBN

Severance: Stories

by

Severance: Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9780811856140
ISBN10: 0811856143
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $6.95!

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for one and one-half minutes after decapitation. In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at the rate of 160 words per minute. Inspired by the intersection of these two seemingly unrelated concepts, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler wrote sixty-two stories, each exactly 240 words in length, capturing the flow of thoughts and feelings that go through a person's mind after their head has been severed. The characters are both real and imagined — Medusa (beheaded by Perseus, 2000 BC), Anne Boleyn (beheaded at the behest of Henry VIII, 1536), a chicken (beheaded for Sunday dinner, Alabama, 1958), and the author (decapitated, on the job, 2008).

Told with the intensity of a poet and the wit of a great storyteller, these final thoughts illuminate and crystallize more about the characters' own lives and the worlds they inhabit than many writers manage to convey in full-length biographies or novels. The stories, which have appeared in literary magazines across the country, are a delightful and intriguing creative feat from one of today's most inventive writers.

Review:

"Lively writing and a catchy conceit make this collection from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain a thought-provoking, if morbid, read. Sixty-two entries, each in the voice of a beheaded historical, mythical, animal or modern figure, make up the collection. Each is exactly 240 words, Butler's estimate of the number of words that could be spoken by a decapitated head before oxygen runs out. Among the post-mortem monologues Butler imagines are John the Baptist, Medusa, Cicero, a chicken, Nicole Brown Simpson, Maximilien Robespierre, Valeria Messalina and himself, 'decapitated on the job' in 2008. Though clever in arrangement (Butler convincingly constructs the mind of a dragon, then puts his killer, St. George, on the next page) and complex in its considerations (religious faith is an ongoing theme, from the apostle Matthew's recollection of conversion to a Yemeni executioner's discovery that 'the mercy of God seeks sinful love before righteous hatred'), the collection's darting attentions and fractured narratives may frustrate readers. Several entries take a light tone, but what lingers is an unsettling sense of the absurdity — and prevalence — of violence. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Humorous and beguiling, these stories eloquently capture the ways in which our most mundane thoughts spill out of us the moment we lose our heads." Library Journal

Review:

"Extremely well-executed (so to speak)." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Butler's singular perspective on human bloodshed and the power of the mind make Severance not only unique but also unforgettable." Booklist

Review:

"At his best, the heavy erotic overtones of the stories infuse with fresh energy what might otherwise be tired commentary on the close working relationship that sex enjoys with death." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"An eloquent wordsmith, [Butler] knows how to mix wit with profound themes. But in Severance, combining whimsy with the deadly horror of decapitation just doesn't cut it." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Severance is by turns thought-provoking, darkly humorous and touching." St. Petersburg Times

Review:

"If any doubt remained that Robert Olen Butler has the ability to construct winning fiction out of any damned thing he pleases, this volume of brief stories should allay it once and for all....[G]littering and delightful..." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Review:

"Glorious, pure poetry." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[W]ith Severance, Butler has one-upped himself....But despite Butler's efforts to give each figure a distinct voice, when the stories are read in quick succession they begin, if you will, to bleed into one another. They are best read separately, with some space between." New York Times

About the Author

Robert Olen Butler, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his short-story collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, the Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines. He lives and teaches in Tallahassee, Florida.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Natalie Aldern, July 11, 2010 (view all comments by Natalie Aldern)
Butler at his best- the concept of 240 word stories (which he created long before Twitter's 140 character limit), all written as if to be a person's last thoughts between decapitation and death. The concept is morbid, but the stories are beautiful. Some are drenched in history, others rely on pure emotion. Technically a quick-read, but spend some time on each short story to appreciate the author's craft.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Martha J., August 11, 2008 (view all comments by Martha J.)
I would label this a book of fixed-form prose poems rather than stories although one could also think them to be sudden-fiction or short-shorts. Each story is 240 words long - the last 240 words rushing through the narrators' mind after the head is severed from the body. The historical figures represented are a cross-section - Medusa, Anne Boleyn, Gooseneck (court jester), John the Baptist, Jayne Mansfield ... Some of the pieces are stunning e.g. Chin Chin Chan, a Chinese student 1882 A. D. Some are humorous e.g. the Dragon 310 A.D. Unfortunately, there are some for which I need a more detailed knowledge of French and English history "to get." Still the book is well worth the time to read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780811856140
Subtitle:
Stories
Author:
Butler, Robert Olen
Author:
Butler, Robert Olen
Publisher:
Chronicle Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20060810
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 8 up to 17
Language:
English
Pages:
264
Dimensions:
7.26x5.94x.98 in. .79 lbs.
Age Level:
from 13 up to 99

Other books you might like

  1. Perfume the Story of a Murderer Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. The Used World
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  3. Channeling Mark Twain Used Hardcover $9.95
  4. The Shadow of the Wind
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  5. The Gathering
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  6. Kite Runner Used Trade Paper $4.50

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Severance: Stories Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 264 pages Chronicle Books - English 9780811856140 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Lively writing and a catchy conceit make this collection from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain a thought-provoking, if morbid, read. Sixty-two entries, each in the voice of a beheaded historical, mythical, animal or modern figure, make up the collection. Each is exactly 240 words, Butler's estimate of the number of words that could be spoken by a decapitated head before oxygen runs out. Among the post-mortem monologues Butler imagines are John the Baptist, Medusa, Cicero, a chicken, Nicole Brown Simpson, Maximilien Robespierre, Valeria Messalina and himself, 'decapitated on the job' in 2008. Though clever in arrangement (Butler convincingly constructs the mind of a dragon, then puts his killer, St. George, on the next page) and complex in its considerations (religious faith is an ongoing theme, from the apostle Matthew's recollection of conversion to a Yemeni executioner's discovery that 'the mercy of God seeks sinful love before righteous hatred'), the collection's darting attentions and fractured narratives may frustrate readers. Several entries take a light tone, but what lingers is an unsettling sense of the absurdity — and prevalence — of violence. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Humorous and beguiling, these stories eloquently capture the ways in which our most mundane thoughts spill out of us the moment we lose our heads."
"Review" by , "Extremely well-executed (so to speak)."
"Review" by , "Butler's singular perspective on human bloodshed and the power of the mind make Severance not only unique but also unforgettable."
"Review" by , "At his best, the heavy erotic overtones of the stories infuse with fresh energy what might otherwise be tired commentary on the close working relationship that sex enjoys with death."
"Review" by , "An eloquent wordsmith, [Butler] knows how to mix wit with profound themes. But in Severance, combining whimsy with the deadly horror of decapitation just doesn't cut it."
"Review" by , "Severance is by turns thought-provoking, darkly humorous and touching."
"Review" by , "If any doubt remained that Robert Olen Butler has the ability to construct winning fiction out of any damned thing he pleases, this volume of brief stories should allay it once and for all....[G]littering and delightful..."
"Review" by , "Glorious, pure poetry."
"Review" by , "[W]ith Severance, Butler has one-upped himself....But despite Butler's efforts to give each figure a distinct voice, when the stories are read in quick succession they begin, if you will, to bleed into one another. They are best read separately, with some space between."
spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.