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Intercourse

Selection

Adam
the dust of the ground rises around us as we move and clench and thrash, and the Creator’s vast dark face fades and the woman grows slick and the dust turns to mud, and in the distance to the west I hear the trees stirring from a sweet breeze, but here the air is still, save for our breath, we are a great wind now ourselves, the two of us, we are rushing across the face of the earth and all that we left behind was good, but behold, naked is good too, and I named the animals one by one, the Creator brought them and I named them, and again I have some naming to do—of these parts of her I am seeing as if for the first time—but that will have to wait, I am a running river now and the names I already named will have to do: her two young fawns, her clam, her ass, which I ride

Eve
I was happy but to tangle the holding parts and the walking parts and lie here quietly in the clean space he has made for us, but he is pawing and fondling and crying out and whimpering and perhaps that is good too, like when he took the apple from me, he was quiet then and he is boisterous now but it is the same: I offer and he takes, and I had nothing to give the Creator and all that He gave was for the man, and a shadow fell on the path and something was there and it came forth hissing prettily and he said You’re not stupid and he was right and what he gave was sweet in me, but this man is not, he is flailing around and proud of his own little snake

Reviews

2008

2008

“[Intercourse is] both titillating and meaty. Butler has a deep talent for particularizing these mythic sexual encounters…[he] seems to be telling us that repetition, above all, is the essence of humankind’s perpetual bump and grind. And, in a world in which all the secrets are out, perhaps the greatest art lies in making us blush anew at what we already know.”

— Sam Anderson, New York Magazine

“As always, Butler broaches matters of mystery and profundity, but here he gives full rein to his gift for satire…Mordantly funny takes on the endless battles between men and women and body and soul alternate with uncanny insights into the politics of desire, the fortress of loneliness, and the spectrum of lust, bliss, terror, and indifference…Beautiful and sad, chilling and hilarious.

— Donna Seaman, starred review, Booklist

“An unabashed, rollicking trip through history told in brilliant paired monologues at moments of supreme intimacy—or not. If we humans are all that he says, this Mr. Butler, we are wise and wicked, compassionate and egocentric, tender and mad, and he, the revelator, is deliciously naughty, keen-witted, and clairvoyant, a master of a hundred voices. I laughed out loud, and I’m still laughing.”

— Susan Vreeland, author of Luncheon of the Boating Party and Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Intercourse is not finally about sex as much as it is about the mind, and language, and the ability of a wonderful writer to make us believe and feel.”

— Richard Bausch, author of Peace and Thanksgiving Night

“Butler paints the whole history of the world in a few deft strokes, so to speak.”

— Roy Blount Jr., author of Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South

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