Review: “The Disappeared” by Blake Butler

3 of 5 stars.

This short story is included in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran. Quite unlike the rest of the stories in the anthology, this one barely has a narrative arc. We are also left without any clear idea on what has happened and what is currently happening. What the forward to the story deems potentially surreal, I’d call psychological not unlike vast stretches of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

As a reader, I felt like I was in the head of a schizophrenic. Presumably, this skewed POV is compliments of whatever is afflicting the populous. Through the haze of the crazy, we catch glimpses of things that might be real and scary. There is an epidemic, and quarantining. Social panic. Maybe, there is even a host of plagues not unlike in The Old Testament. It’s hard to say with any certainty, but it’s fascinating never-the-less.

I do find myself wanting more though. I want to move through this period of the story and into the next to clear out some of the haze. Unfortunately, our narrator may not make it that far or he is just too far gone.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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