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Mr. Spaceman

Selection

I am. The word on the face of the bus is LUCK. Bright bulbs of gold illuminate the letters so that even though the night is dark, this word goes before them, shining. I am far above, but I have moved over the land and the water of this place for some years now, and so I know how it is: the hum of their tires on their Tax Dollars at Work, the rice fields sliding invisibly past and smelling like Fabric-Safe Morning Rain, spots of light out toward the night horizon where others of them huddle in their bungalows or their mobile homes waiting for what these on the bus rush to seek for themselves along Interstate number Ten. The bus dashes fast in the passing lane, the windows black, showing nothing to the outside world, but I know there are souls within, yearning forth into the dark night, crossing from the Great State of Texas to the Sportsman’s Paradise of Louisiana, the Pelican State, the Bayou State, the place where they Let the Good Times Roll, and down the highway is the city of Lake Charles where strobe lights as green as the most dazzling toothbrush wave about high over the lake, restlessly sweeping an empty sky. As if they are looking for me. But from these lights, everyone passing in the night knows there are vessels here that can carry them over this water and provide games to play where they might find this thing that so many seek. This is how I understand it so far.

Reviews

2000

2000

“Philosophical, other-wordly and drily amusing, Butler’s novel addresses timeless issues with a strange and beautiful detachment.”

Time Out

“Robert Olen Butler has written a wonderfully comic and appealing novel around a gentle, humane spaceman who helps us to understand what it is to be human and what it is to be funny.”

Red Magazine

“Robert Olen Butler shows dazzingly fresh ideas in this intelligently written and witty science fiction novel.”

Irish News

“A novel of surprising poignance… Amusingly quirky… [Portrays] a human world that’s both in thrall to a tabloid culture of quick money and in search of some kind of spiritual redemption… A pseudo-sci-fi novel that is at once funny and humane, entertaining and touching.”

— Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Robert Olen Butler may be our pre-eminent practitioner of first-person narrative… Butler [gives] eloquent voice to characters scarcely heard from otherwise… The result [is] original, funny, bizarrely haunting.”

— Wilton Bernhardt, Chicago Tribune

“A delight… You have to admire a writer who takes risks, and Robert Olen Butler takes big ones… One of our most original writers.”

— Anthony Brandt, Men’s Journal

“A lovely and thoughtful tribute to the nature and power of the word… Intelligent, funny, and enormously likeable.”

— Kit Reed, The Washington Post Book World

“Dazzing… Highly inventive… Not since E.T. has there been a more captivating space creature than Desi.”

— Robert Allen Papinchak, USA Today

“An affecting, half-comic novel that triumphantly updates one of the oldest, most productive strains in Western literature… Remarkable.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

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