52 Weeks/52 Interviews: Week One: Blake Butler and Sean Kilpatrick

J.A. Tyler

Blake Butler is the author of There is No Year, Nothing: A Memoir of Insomnia, Ever, and Scorch Atlas, which was named Novel of the Year by 3:AM Magazine and a finalist for the Believer Book Award. He edits HTMLGIANT as well as two journals of innovative text, Lamination Colony, and No Colony. He lives in Atlanta.

Sean Kilpatrick is the author of fuckscapes. His writing has appeared in the Evergreen Review, Columbia Poetry Review, New York Tyrant, Caketrain, Dzanc Books Best of the Web 2010, 30 Under 30, Fence, and many other publications. He lives in Michigan.


Monkeybicycle: Anatomy Courses is listed on the front cover as “A Skin Dictionary.” What is a skin dictionary?

Blake Butler: I don’t know what it is, I have no idea, I can’t even begin to think of it, I don’t know and hope I never do, maybe I hope I do, I don’t know really, I think it’s something about vision and digestion, or about wolves wearing tiaras.

Sean Kilpatrick: Language as loss, thankful alienation, suicide alphabet, lover’s piss, limbic hex, nihilist pap smear, migraine telepathy, text against nature, hatred as principle consciousness, spasm over context.

Mb: On his blog, Blake announced the release of this title saying “Many thanks to Cameron Pierce for releasing this slim strange book I never thought would be released.” What did you question about the potential publication of Anatomy Courses?

BB: I just didn’t think anyone would ever want to do it, we live in America.

SK: The collective need to parse. People who scrub themselves with meaning. The delicately optimistic, the political, the canon, people who survive, parlay, dissect, go outside, have working colons, have anything but enemas for eyes, know what’s right, are above, the pious and sneering rest, brood hustlers.

Mb: You are listed as co-authors of Anatomy Courses, but there is no indication in the book of who wrote what, and the voices seem indistinguishable from one another. Can you talk to us about how this book was written, what the process was like?

BB: I pretended to be Sean and Sean pretended to be me and this was our method of cybersexing over an 11 month period because we could not actually fuck.

SK: We pulled a train. Our train abstracted vinegar with us.

Mb: Anatomy Courses has a vocabulary full of the scatological, the sexual, the medical, and other disease ridden bouts of linguistics, yet the language seems easy, flowing. How do you achieve this feat, writing both in this vernacular and also writing in one voice, using two writers?

BB: Neither of us is really a writer, more like two big holes with holes inside them, it was easy that way, it was like crying and spitting up into a bag and then carrying that bag around with you for the aforementioned 11 months and putting anything you didn’t want to put into it into it.

SK: I misrapped my cramps. It was time to time them. He influenced the salt of my discourse. He got a style that touch you where.

Mb: Anatomy Courses takes us alongside a father and a mother and a baby(ies), all of which are constant references or images in your writing. Why are these figures so important, and do you think they will always be so significant to your work?

BB: I’ve never thought about it and don’t plan to.

SK: I see maybe less the figure than the engine condensed. Trying to dodge through the sentence without shaking hands or that it happens alone. This phrase New Extremity is in my tickle. Trying to lose something here. As long as it’s not liked. Those who puppet their title.

Mb: You each have previous books, but we’d love to know what is next for each of you. Can you share with us what your individual writerly futures hold?

BB: Rub my face on a lot of different kinds of buffet glass, lie on some floors a lot, get several haircuts, grow more hair, touch machines.

SK: 3 more collaborations, 2 prose books, 2 poem books, then to chum eventual purchase with some lord.


Purchase a copy of Anatomy Courses here, read more from / about Blake Butler here, and read more from / about Sean Kilpatrick here.


Born in 1978 and currently residing in Colorado, J. A. Tyler is the author of nine novel(la)s of poetic fiction. His work has been published in some of the nation’s top literary journals including Black Warrior Review, Redivider, Cream City Review, Diagram, Fairy Tale Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and New York Tyrant and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and cited in Dzanc Books’s Best of the Web series, Wake Forest’s &Now series, Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions, and the StorySouth Million Writers Award.


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