A Small Press Distribution Staff-Pick and Fiction Bestseller for 7 months.
Danielle Dutton s stories remind me of those alluring puzzles where the pool is overflowing and emptying at the same time. Dutton s answer? That the self is a rush of the languages of storytelling and moments of helpless intimacy, and she recalculates the lives of her numerous heroines to assert the busy and the broken.
Danielle Dutton writes with a deft explosiveness that craters the page with stunning, unsettling precision. Here "car lights like licorice whips slick the road outside the window," there "the puffed-thumb Emma person" sways and falls, and everywhere "the firelight is orange against the midnight of the ocean." Her marvelous, generous Attempts at a Life proves that, like Gertrude Stein, she knows how to be "at once talking and listening."
A dizzying turn of sentences . . . a palpable intensity . . . playful, yet precise . . . marks Dutton as the descendent of the modernist portraits by--and of--both Stein and Pablo Picasso, as handed down through Language poetry, prose poetry and experimental fiction lineages.
"She recontextualizes the gothic setting. The ruined estate becomes language itself. . . . It's serious, but as many dramatists celebrate: comedy orbits a dark sun. Which is to say, this is also a very funny book."
--American Book Review
"Complete and devastating. . . . "
"A compelling, enigmatic read. Ideal for readers of the fiction and the literary essay alike, Danielle Dutton's new book is a significant contribution to contemporary experimental writing."
"Dutton's work is incredibly inviting--she's able to inhabit the insights of theory and then perform them without having to get bogged down in the sort of jargon or explanation that might deter the general reader (whoever you are). Dutton's work is "accessible" in the best way possible. She's working at a remarkably high level of insight while still inviting you to enjoy yourself."
Operating somewhere between fiction and poetry, biography and theory, the pieces in Attempts at a Life, though nominally stories, might indeed be thought of as "attempts." They do what lively stories do best, creating worlds of possibility, worlds filled with surprises, but rather than bring these worlds to some sort of neat conclusion, they constantly push out towards something new. In "S&M," a marriage suffers from "the words you were always missing: sky, loft, music, dogs, pipes, puppets, war." In "Mary Carmichael," a woman with a pair of scissors and the need to "cut out her insatiable desire" slices "a veiled hat from a fern in a pot" and "a river out of a postbox." Like the "experiments in found movement" one character conducts (in "Everybody's Autobiography"), Dutton's stories find movement wherever they turn, in every phrase and cadence, each sentence a small explosion of images and anthems and odd juxtapositions. This is writing in which the imagination (both writer's and reader's) is capable of producing almost anything at any moment, from a shiny penny to an alien metropolis, a burning village to a bright green bird.
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|Title: Attempts at a Life|
Author(s): Danielle Dutton
ISBN: 0-9779019-3-9 / 978-0-9779019-3-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Tarpaulin Sky Press
Availability: Amazon Amazon UK Amazon CA