Severance

Severance

Stories

Book - 2006
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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 imaginedMedusa (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.
Publisher: San Francisco : Chronicle Books, c2006.
ISBN: 9780811856140
0811856143
Branch Call Number: BUTLER R
Characteristics: 263 pages ; 19 cm.

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KarenW
Mar 09, 2009

This compelling book puts forward the theory that for one minute and a half after being decapitated, the human head remains conscious. And Robert Olen Butler has taken that stance to portray famous and not so famous people in the moments just after their supposed demise to give us an idea of what was going through their now liberated noggin. Some of it is odd, some of it is understandable, and some it is fateful. But altogether it is a gruesome ponderance that produces a chilling record of one of the worst ways to die.

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