Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blake Butler Kicked Me In The Head

I don't know. There's not a lot to think today. Even coffee isn't coming on. I watched the movie PERSEPOLIS last night. It was okay. It was too political and less fantastical. I want more fantasy in movies. I am tired of thinking about political intentions. There is very little anyone can do to change what will occur. I don't know what's going on right now. It's as if I'm riding on a blinker. I don't know what a blinker means. I am still reading TORTOISE by James Lewelling. I like the sentences. I am reading slowly. I've read some of the sentences over and over again. I can't keep things straight. I went to Borders a little last night and walked around and picked up books and touched them. This coffee is not goddamned coming on.

Yesterday RYAN CALL sent me a little thing he wrote about Saturday night at AWP. It documents some of what happened that I do not remember. I do not, for instance, remember talking about Kim Chinquee. I do not remember sleep walking and ending up on the floor. I do not remember kicking Ryan Call in the head. This document is a document to help me remember. This document will win Ryan Call the PEN/Faulkner award for prose.

by Ryan Call


Blake Butler invited me to a party. The party was at someone’s apartment in Brooklyn, so I followed Blake Butler out there to meet people I had read about on the internet. These people have blogs, and e-books, and online literary journals, and real, tiny books, and other writings of that nature. I felt like I knew them like the way you might know a really talkative person who sits behind you in class and says smart things.


At the apartment, I met a person named Justin Taylor and a person named Kendra Grant Malone and a person named Lauren Something, I think, who soon left the apartment with another person whose name I never learned. Blake Butler introduced me to everyone and everyone smiled and seemed very nice. I felt friendly towards everyone, even though I also felt a little anxious at meeting new people.


Someone pointed at the wine bottles on the kitchen counter, so I drank some of the wine, but from a mug that Justin Taylor gave to me. Blake Butler stood next to me and talked to Kendra Grant Malone. Justin Taylor stood on the other side of me to get something to drink, I think. I told Justin Taylor that I liked that symposium he put together on Donald Barthelme, though I probably did not use the word symposium. I probably said thingy. He said thanks back and asked me what I did. I told him I went to the writing program at George Mason University.


Tao Lin came into the apartment and everyone said hello to him and he said hello back. Tao Lin sat on the couch across from the kitchen counter and opened up his computer. He looked at us. He looked at me and said, who are you. I’m Ryan, I said. He nodded and looked back down at his computer.


Justin Taylor said that he had rum in the freezer if anyone wanted it. I did not want to keep drinking wine, nor did I want to drink rum, because I have had bad things happen with rum. I had a flask full of whiskey, so I poured some of that into my cup and got a few ice cubes out of the tray. Blake Butler said that he wanted rum and coke, so he and Justin Taylor made rum and coke for each of them. I think here is where I began to get drunk. And here is where Blake Butler began to get drunk also.


Short list of some authors’ names I heard while I was at this party:

Donald Barthelme

Mazie Louise Montgomery

Ofelia Hunt

Matthew Rohrer

Barry Hannah

Kim Chinquee


I also vaguely remember a discussion about bi-curious girls.


We moved to the couch and people sat down in various places. Blake Butler and Kendra Grant Malone sat on a lounge chair sort of thing to my left. I took Tao Lin’s computer and logged onto my gmail account to check for emails and see who was online. I do not know if I asked Tao Lin if I could use his computer, but I hope he did not mind. His computer was tiny and had a tiny keyboard that gave me trouble when I tried to type words into it. I liked trying to type on it.


I opened a chat window with a friend of mine from college, and I typed:

me: tao is throwing bananas at us.

The bananas came at us end over end. Justin Taylor and Mike Young and I were sitting on the couch. Two bananas hit the couch, I think, but no one got hurt. Or maybe Mike Young showed up later on? I do not know what happened to the bananas, but I think Tao Lin used them to make smoothies for us in the morning? Thank you, Tao Lin, for the smoothies.


Kendra Grant Malone stood up from the chair to go do something, and Blake Butler fell off of the chair. The chair tipped up like a seesaw, and Blake Butler fell onto the floor. His legs stuck out like a pair of scissors. He stayed on the floor for a while. He flailed his sneakers around a bit.

me: yes

blake is givinghigh fiives to people

John: hooray

skin contact

Blake Butler had gotten to his feet and was now giving high fives to everyone. Somewhere in there I finished my whiskey. Blake Butler shouted words at everyone. Much celebration and cheering.


At various points throughout the evening, Tao Lin stood up and ran back to the other parts of the apartment to get shit. I typed:

me: yes

he is mysize

and he runs around the apt

to get sht


Once he ran to his room and came back to give me a book of his poetry. He dropped it at my feet and then crouched in front of me. I felt a little confused that he was crouching so close to me, but then I realized that he wanted the computer. He must have said that he wanted the computer. I gave it back to him. I felt glad that I was not talking shit online about anyone in the apartment. I congratulated myself for not being an asshole.

You run around a lot, I said to Tao Lin.


We went to Tao Lin’s room and Justin Taylor talked more about Barry Hannah. Blake Butler and Mike Young talked also. Tao Lin video-recorded Kendra Grant Malone sitting on the bed, and then he recorded everyone else. I looked at the drawings and the books near Tao Lin’s bed. I poked a few books with my finger. I did not know what else to do. My head does this thing sometimes when it cannot process information: it either makes me say things uncontrollably, or it makes me not talk. It did that all evening. It made me not talk. I wanted to say something, to say that I felt happy and comfortable sitting there on the floor next to Tao Lin’s bed. I wanted to say that I felt friendly towards everyone. I wanted to join in and say how much I loved Barry Hannah. But I could not. Instead, I picked up a drawing of a face and decided to take it so I could give it to a friend. I asked Tao Lin to write his name on it. I felt nervous about that because maybe I seemed like I had expected a book signing at this apartment instead of a party. I did not want to seem like that person. So I drew a picture in one of Tao Lin’s small notebooks. There, I told myself, now it’s like we traded pictures.


Bedtime. Blake Butler and I slept in the living room. Surprise! The couch unfolded into a bed. Tao Lin gave us pillows and blankets. Tao Lin gave me the air mattress. He turned off the lights, but he left the light on in his room. I sat on the air mattress and opened Tao Lin’s computer to check my gmail. No one had emailed me between 2:30am and 5:00am. So I emailed them. Later on they emailed me back and asked me why the hell was I writing emails at five in the morning? I did it because I wanted to have emails to read when I got home the next day. Then a person walked back into the kitchen to get something. I worried that someone might think I was accessing porn on Tao Lin’s laptop. I closed the laptop, put it on the kitchen counter, and then lay down on the air mattress. I knocked over a glass of water near the air mattress with my left arm, and then I went to sleep.


I woke up when Blake Butler kicked me in the head. At first I was confused, but then it happened again. I pushed his feet away from my face with my hands, but my wrists were not strong enough. His legs are stronger. Blake Butler is a tall person. I sat up a little and could see, in the dark, Blake Butler halfway curled up at my feet on the air mattress. He was saying jumbled words loudly in his sleep. He said something about being cold. He said something about Kim Chinquee. Blake Butler and Kim Chinquee have recently had their work appear together in a lot of the same literary journals. Kim Chinquee has a Pushcart Prize and Blake Butler has been nominated for three this year.


brandon said...

i really liked reading this

Prathna Lor said...

me too

Josh Maday said...

nice. i would like to see someone compile the several accounts of AWP like this into a b-side anthology. what's not in the brochures.

ryan call said...

i could not have done it without blake butler

blake, wasnt it friday night?

Kendra Grant Malone said...

i forgot ryans name until i read this. it is a good account of the evening. i forgot his name cause he was so quiet and i dont think i ever talked to him. hi ryan if you are reading this, sorry i forgot your name, i didnt mean to be rude, i have a bad memory.

ryan call said...

hi kendra
you were not rude at all
i should have talked more anyhow
i had fun