The Devastating Sentences of Gary Lutz

Gary Lutz is not a well-known fiction writer, and barring some massive, unprecedented shift in consumer taste, will never be famous. He doesn’t seem to be reclusive – there are a few interviews available online – but the number of publications or websites interested in his work is understandably small. When I recommend his book I Looked Alive to people and they ask me what it’s about, I have no idea what to say beyond something confusing and halting, like this:

They’re short stories. But they don’t have to be. I mean, they all run together like a novel. A weird sort of unintelligable novel with no plot. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the genders of the characters. Or the point of anything. But it’s all very sad. I think.

For Lutz, it’s all about the language, the way words can be twisted and arranged in a way that’s unsettling and otherworldly. He writes like a hyper-intelligent alien overwhelmed by the minutiae of the human world.

Even if it isn’t your thing, I guarantee that some of the bizarre turns of phrase will stick in your head for a long time. If it is your thing, check out his books!

Excerpts after the jump.

From “A Woman With No Middle Name”

I had not come through in either of the kids. They took their mother’s bunching of features, and were breeze-shaken things, and did not cut too far into life.

They were out in the yard, often as not, standing childheartedly and hasteless near something barely coming up beyond the fence.

But had I at least put myself across in my wife? I had twenty years on her. They were packed down so hard on the two of us, those decades, that it was all but murder to get even as much as an arm moving contentedly away.

I should be saying what her draws were instead of what they drew me toward.

From “All Told”

My parents later attracted a calamity of their own. Crossed the center line in their cozy sedan. (I was the one who had put them up to “seeing some lights.”) I thus had an inherited house all to myself. But places can have consequences, too, I hardly mean only the easy contagions of furniture, or any room’s inevitable, irreversible digestion of its contents. What I wish to insist is that anything you look at can have a way of holding itself against everything else. I thus became a specialist in the fevered and exactive marriage of a week to ten days. The women all had shrewd, fortunate hair.

From “Uncle”

Afterward, restored to the house, close-piled on veers of the sectional sofa, we would haze each other into a shared, mutual nap. Her lips contributed little to mine, but there were always fresh runs of emotion inside.

Her heart never once cracked down.

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