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Butler, Robert Olen

ISBN 10: 0811856143 / ISBN 13: 9780811856140
Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA,, 2006
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Kennedy Books (Jamestown, ND, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Fine/Fine unread copy protected by Archival Brodart Cover. Sixty-two short short stories about the thoughts going through severed heads as they fall. Size: 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001057

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Severence

Publisher: Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA,

Publication Date: 2006

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


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.

From the Publisher:

Excerpt from Severance:

Queen of England, beheaded after the displeasure of her husband, King Henry VIII, 1536

Tiny and gray is the boy and I am undone, him being no living boy and no heir to my husband, though I hold his body close and I am breathless with love for him, and the next is merely a lump of blood between my legs and he was my last chance to live, this clot, this stain this wet-cleansed spot in my place of sex, but still there is my sweet girl my Elizabeth her pale face and her hair the color of the first touch of sun in the sky, the pale fire of her hair, she turns her gray eyes to me and I know I am soon to leave her and she is dressed in russet velvet and a purple satin cap with a caul of gold and the candlelight thrashes about the walls and I say to her Lady Princess I will always be your mother and she says in her wee voice madam you are my Queen and she bows as she has been taught and I ache to take her up but she is right, of course, we are who we are to each other and I am who I am to the man who must cast me off now, and I say rise my sweet child and she straightens and lifts her face and I bend to her, I draw near to her, I cup my daughter’s head in my hands

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