Severance: Stories

Front Cover
Chronicle Books, Aug 10, 2006 - Fiction - 263 pages
72 Reviews
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.
 

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5 stars
14
4 stars
22
3 stars
25
2 stars
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1 star
3

Original premise and extremely well written. - Goodreads
Beautifully written each is like a prose poem. - Goodreads
The writing is beautiful. - Goodreads
The premise itself is intriguing--a sequence - Goodreads
The premise behind Severance is the combinati - Goodreads

Review: Severance: Stories

User Review  - Ashley - Goodreads

This is probably the most creative concept for a book I've ever seen. Supposedly, a head remains conscious for 90 seconds after decapitation. The author takes historical figures, animals, and ... Read full review

Review: Severance: Stories

User Review  - Tierney - Goodreads

5 or 6 stand way out over the rest, but overall a good experience. Loved the concept, regardless of how little I take the minute-and-a-half thing as a fact. Read full review

All 23 reviews »

Selected pages

Contents

I
14
II
18
III
22
IV
26
V
30
VI
34
VII
38
VIII
42
XXXIV
142
XXXV
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XXXVII
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XXXVIII
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XXXIX
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XL
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XLII
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XLIII
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IX
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X
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XI
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XII
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XIII
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XIV
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XV
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XVI
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XVII
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XVIII
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XIX
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XX
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XXI
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XXII
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XXIV
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XXV
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XXVII
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XXVIII
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XXIX
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XXX
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XXXI
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XXXII
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XXXIII
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XLIV
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XLV
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XLVI
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XLVIII
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L
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LI
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LII
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LIII
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LIV
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LVI
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LVII
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LVIII
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LIX
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LX
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LXII
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LXIII
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LXIV
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LXV
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LXVII
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LXVIII
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LXIX
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Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Robert Olen Butler, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his short-story collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines. He lives and teaches in Tallahassee, Florida.

Bibliographic information