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S P R A W L Paperback – August 23, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The run-on text of Dutton's archly comic first novel (after story collection Attempts at a Life) forms, literally, a block of prose: the book itself is nearly square in shape, and the story consists of a single long paragraph. The unnamed narrator lives in a sprawling suburb with her husband, Haywood. In lieu of a conventional plot, there's a series of observations and reveries, prompted by such events as the narrator and Haywood seeing a movie in which the blonde heroine says "magnificent" as her "eyes shine with tears." Elsewhere, the narrator shares the minute rituals of a pet cat, has a 19th-century daydream inspired by a sunny morning, and dissects her appearance in a mirror and the dinner on a table. As the narrative proceeds, some change is seen, largely in Haywood's disillusion with marriage and with his wife's increasingly brittle musings. This experimental novel is best read in a single sitting and, like the photographs that inspired it, can be viewed in any number of ways, with a different effect each time.
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Review

Danielle Dutton's S P R A W L reads as if Gertrude Stein channeled Alice B. Toklas writing an Arcades Project set in contemporary suburbia. --The Believer

Borrowing techniques from both fiction, poetry, and visual art (particularly photography), the book not only infuses each object . . . with a Vermeeresque glow but arranges it into part of a verbal still life. The result? A fresh take on suburbia, one of reverence and skepticism. The beauty of S P R A W L resides in its fierce, careful composition, which changes the ordinary into the wonderful and odd. S P R A W L in fact does not sprawl at all; rather, it radiates with control and fresh, strange reflection. --Bookforum

In the long line of novels about the vapidity of suburbia, Dutton s has a narrator who may be one of the most likable. Aloof and hilarious, she dissects their lives with the casualness of a cynical scientist. --TimeOut Chicago

Borrowing techniques from both fiction, poetry, and visual art (particularly photography), the book not only infuses each object . . . with a Vermeeresque glow but arranges it into part of a verbal still life. The result? A fresh take on suburbia, one of reverence and skepticism. The beauty of S P R A W L resides in its fierce, careful composition, which changes the ordinary into the wonderful and odd. S P R A W L in fact does not sprawl at all; rather, it radiates with control and fresh, strange reflection. --Bookforum

In the long line of novels about the vapidity of suburbia, Dutton s has a narrator who may be one of the most likable. Aloof and hilarious, she dissects their lives with the casualness of a cynical scientist. --TimeOut Chicago
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Siglio; 1 edition (August 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979956234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979956232
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #911,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Danielle Dutton's fiction has appeared in magazines such as Harper's, BOMB, Fence, and Noon. She is the author of a collection of hybrid prose pieces, Attempts at a Life, which Daniel Handler in Entertainment Weekly called "indescribably beautiful," and an experimental novel, S P R A W L, a finalist for the Believer Book Award. In 2015, she wrote the texts for Here Comes Kitty: A Comic Opera, an artists' book with collages by Richard Kraft. In 2016, Catapult will publish her novel Margaret the First.

In 2010, Dutton founded the small press Dorothy, a publishing project, named for her great aunt Dorothy Traver, a librarian who drove a bookmobile through the back hills of southern California. The press itself has been praised in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, and Dutton has been interviewed in the Paris Review, Kirkus, and elsewhere for her work promoting innovative women writers.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book so much that I actually used it as an example for a significant portion of my Master's thesis on the concept of suburbia in contemporary literature. I don't normally write reviews on Amazon, but I felt compelled because this one was so poorly reviewed...then I realized it was poorly reviewed by college students who seemed annoyed at having to read a challenging book. This book has neither traditional plot nor traditional layout, but deals instead with a conceptual approach to the experience of a space. It is a very, very, very good read...

Besides, if you love literature, surely you'll agree: poor reviews from confused college students almost always mean a book is at least worth a shot.
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Format: Paperback
What a wonderfully strange and delicious novel that will put you in the mind of a modern-day "Mrs. Dalloway." Danielle Dutton's voice is assured, playful and sensuous. Somewhere out there, Virginia Woolf is smiling.
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I deeply admire what this book is attempting to do, but I couldn't get through it. I was new to experimental literature when I first read it; maybe I should try again someday.
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The book is not a very good read. I would never recommend it for the beach. What would I recommend it for? I recommend it is you want to study literature and writing. This book goes on to say a lot about the human psych. I bought it for a class, read it all the way through, and after discussing the book and its themes in class I have a better understanding of human nature and writing itself.
It is a bittersweet book. If you are a writer, you may want to read it to study your craft. Don't buy it if you just want a book to read because it is basically pointless.
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By Kira on September 12, 2012
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I got this book for a class and hate it, I don't even know why I still have it. I found it strange and fairly boring. Not worth the time it took to read.
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