Nothing by Blake Butler
A Portrait of Insomnia

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One of the most acclaimed young voices of his generation, Blake Butler now offers his first work of nonfiction: a deeply candid and wildly original look at the phenomenon of insomnia.

Invoking scientific data, historical anecdote, Internet obsession, and figures as diverse as Andy Warhol, Gilles Deleuze, John Cage, Anton LaVey, Jorge Luis Borges, Brian Eno, and Stephen King, Butler traces the tension between sleeping and conscious life. And he reaches deep into his own experience—from disturbing waking dreams, to his father’s struggles with dementia, to his own epic 129-hour bout of insomnia—to reveal the effect of sleeplessness on his imaginative landscape.

The result is an exhilarating exploration of dream and awareness, desperation and relief, consciousness and conscience—a fascinating maze-map of the borders between sleep and the waking world by one of today’s most talked-about writers.


About Blake Butler

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Blake Butler is the author of the novel There Is No Year, the novella Ever, and the novel-in-stories Scorch Atlas. He edits “the internet literature magazine blog of the future” HTMLGiant, as well as two journals of innovative text, Lamination Colony and No Colony. He lives in Atlanta.
Published October 11, 2011 by Harper Perennial. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Once awake, however, his “busy brain” actively nursed a buzzing Internet obsession with search engines or Facebook, “jumbling through nothing, staring at images of head after new head.” Particularly harrowing are sections detailing the author’s unimaginable near-six-day stretch without sleep and ...

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia

The New York Times

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A memoir and meditation on the experience of insomnia.

Dec 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia

Bookshelf Bombshells

Herein without sleep the aggregate aggregates its aggregating aggregations into something at once speeding up and slowing down – beating unseen doors down to find behind them more doors, darker, flatter – spaceless secrets – and so then what then – there you are – what must move against the self ...

Nov 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia

The Hollywood Reporter

SANTA BARBARA -- Imagine a Kiwi spaghetti western filtered through the offbeat sensibilities of early Sam Raimi or the Coen brothers and you’ve pretty much got the picture that is Good for Nothing.

Feb 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia

Creative Loafing

Blake Butler's new book, Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, begins with a simple image, recalled from childhood: "When I was twelve, the nearby high school released a flood of pink balloons.

Oct 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia

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