Severance: Stories

Severance: Stories - Robert Olen Butler Severance combines two theories: that consciousness is retained after decapitation for 90 seconds, and that, in heightened emotional states, people speak 160 words per minute. The book is sixty-two stories, at exactly 240 words each, from the heads of decapitated people: kings, queens, farmers, girls, businessmen, jihadists, authors, and mythological women, men and animals. It’s a fantastic book in its originality, its concept and, yeah, its execution.I can’t remember the last book of poetry I read, and though Severance is labeled a book of stories, I have a hard time believing this is anything but the suggestive, dewy dream-state that a good set of poems can capture. What has surprised me most is how small scenes or visions from the stories float in and out of memory throughout the day, and how Butler connects history, sex and war across time in common and uncommon lives. Whether or not you enjoy poetry, this well worth reading out loud.