MR. SPACEMAN.

Butler, Robert Olen.

ISBN 10: 0802116604 / ISBN 13: 9780802116604
Published by New York: Grove Press, (2000.) dj, 2000
Hardcover
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About this Item

SIGNED hardcover first edition - First printing. Pulitzer prize winning author's ninth novel, a humorous fable about the state of humanity at the beginning of a new millenium, in which a tour bus bound for a Louisiana casino is beamed inside a spaceship hovering over earth. SIGNED on the title page. 223 pp. Fine in fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 60593

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Bibliographic Details

Title: MR. SPACEMAN.

Publisher: New York: Grove Press, (2000.) dj

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

The night before the turn of the millennium, a tour bus bound for a Louisiana casino is suddenly beamed inside a spaceship hovering high above the Earth's surface. As its twelve passengers emerge nervously from the vehicle, they come face-to-face with the being who has brought them aboard, a sixteen-fingered zoot-suited alien named Desi. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, Desi will seek their help as he readies himself for the final phase of the mysterious mission he has traveled across the galaxies to fulfill.
For decades, Desi has patiently studied the curious primary species of our planet, absorbing human culture from afar and occasionally bringing a chosen few aboard his ship to read their thoughts and experience their emotions with his telepathic powers. Over time, he has come to love Earth's confusing, fascinating, and frustrating inhabitants - and even taken a human wife, a gregarious former hairdresser from Alabama named Edna Bradshaw.
Now, to complete his mission, Desi must position his ship in full and irrefutable view of the people of Earth and descend to the planet's surface at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

Review:

Desi is a spaceman who has a way with words. Listening to them, that is. He's been hovering over Earth for years, occasionally beaming up earthlings and telepathically auditing their personal histories. At the opening of Robert Olen Butler's metaphysical comedy, the date is December 30, 2000. Desi has beamed up a busload of gamblers bound for a Louisiana casino. His wife, Edna Bradshaw--beamed up earlier from Bovary, Alabama--is making sausage balls, a dish she believes will comfort the astonished visitors. Together, Desi and Edna put everyone so at ease that the abductees quickly become disciples.

Butler's narrator is a happy comic creation, a deadpan alien in love with his wife and her fine set of knockers: "There are three things about this planet which are too wonderful for me. Make that four things. The way of dreams in the mind; the way of tears in the eyes; the way of words in the mouth; and the way of my wife Edna Bradshaw when she acts like a cat and lovenibbles me into her arms." In a novel that eludes classification, Butler propels Desi's linguistic struggles, busload of disciples, and attempts to plumb the mystery of human yearning to a tight climax as he plans his first public appearance on Earth, which his new followers believe is a second coming. Mr. Spaceman is by turns a fond satire of science fiction, an ode to the South, and an exploration of marital dynamics that's as besotted with detail as any Anne Tyler novel--though the perspective tilts a little off-center. Edna gives her spaceman a fond pinch on the cheek, and he observes,

Her hand lunges forward and grabs a sizeable part of my cheek and squeezes and jiggles it. This physical attack is very distressing to me, especially given the sudden light-heartedness of her demeanor as she does it. This is a side to Edna that shocks me, and the violence goes on. I am bearing it the best I can and now Edna even says, "Oh you spaceman," in that cheery, loving voice that I have grown to recognize in spite of the neutrality of the words themselves. I am very confused and her attack on my cheek ceases and her hand drops and I think I may have missed something. I think she has meant this gesture as a friendly thing. After all, she does not have suckers on her fingers.
Butler also frequently digresses into the narrative voices of the earthlings in their monologues about their lives. Alas, so appealing is Desi's narrative voice that these (admittedly often virtuoso) forays into other voices offer a degree of frustration. --Claire Dederer

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