A family lives in a house in which strange things start to happen (or—it’s a new novel by Blake Butler).
Love him, hate him or feign indifference: There’s really no other way to react to the work of writer/postmodernist/multi-hyphenate Butler (Ever, 2009, etc). For those who like their prose fresh out of a cleaner and more traditional wellspring, Blake’s writing can prove tedious at best and arduous at worst. But for those who lean toward writing that is more visceral, taxing or outright demanding of the reader, this might be the right cup of tea—see Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), to which this novel owes some debt. The book concerns a family of doppelgängers so featureless that Butler doesn’t bother to give them names (or more accurately, likely purposefully washes them out to their elementary characteristics). So, the father, the mother and the son live in a house, just like the carbon copy father, mother and son had done before them. The father stares at a computer screen. The mother stares at her lined face in mirrors and thinks protective thoughts about her son, who suffers from a disease that nearly ended his life. The son goes to school, makes a friend and watches television with his family. It’s all presented in hushed, monochrome language that gives the whole enterprise a sense of menace from the beginning, even before Butler introduces the father’s paranoia that things in the house are changing without his knowledge. And then things do start changing.
A gruesome slice of familial oddity that demonstrates its author’s versatility.