This is the first time I can truly say a book has left me corn-fused! I read the pitch e-mail for There is No Year by Blake Butler and was intrigued. There is no clear plot. The characters have no names. The chapters are short, some even have just a few words. The color of the pages range from light to dark. In my opinion, the story isn't linear. It feels like a jumble of thoughts/vignettes cobbled together in a book, but not in a bad way.
We have a mother, a father, a son, and...their copies. Yes identical copies of themselves. The copy family doesn't speak, and eventually they are done away with in interesting ways. There is a room full of hair, holes in the walls that lead to other places, an obsession with ants and heads. An obsession with death, including a list of real-life people who died. Was there a reason for this? There are moments of normality when the family watches television. But then there are moments that are just weird. Eating hair, walking around the house naked, walking through puckers in the wall? Who does that?
Sometimes I thought I was witnessing an alternate reality. Some dystopian society.
"The eye had many sides. Each time the father blinked inside his own sight with the other's -- quick black -- when he looked again the eye would seize. The eye would spin among its sides and scrunch like aged skin, then come to settle centered on another side. Each new side held a new pupil to look into, and it looking back as well, again."
Are they watching some versions of themselves going through life? I wasn't sure right up until the end, and I'm still not sure. Did I miss the clues? Do the pages going from light to dark mean anything? Do the lighter pages mean life is brightening up for this family? Maybe there wasn't anything to miss. As I said, this book left me corn-fused!! This book was outside of comfort zone. Not every book has to have a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is why it's good for me to read books like this. It can get pretty boring if you limit yourself to certain genres and formats, and believe me this book is anything but boring.
My interest was held throughout because I wanted to know what was going on. There are moments that will make you go, "huh?" I liken this book to the Matrix flicks and Inception. Those were movies that I need to see two or three times before I truly understood what was going on. This is a book I'm going to have read again.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Harper Perennial) in exchange for an honest review.