Flesh Home: The Uncanny Female Architecture of Blake Butler's 'EVER'

Laura Joyce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


'Within the psychic architecture that is EVER, Blake Butler explores the way bodies swell and contract, going from skin to house and back again. And the way houses too shrink to fit us first like clothing and then like skin and then tighter still. The result is a strange, visionary ontological dismemberment.' (Brian Evenson)

This chapter examines the relationship between sexuality, flesh, and spatiality by examining Blake Butler's novel EVER. By reading sections of the novel which conflate and collapse the home and the female body, it seeks to test Brian Evenson's statement that Butler achieves an 'ontological dismemberment'. The paper will also use Anthony Viedler's work on the architectural uncanny, and, Freud's concept of the uncanny. By considering Freud's statement that 'Love is home-sickness and whenever a man dreams of a place or a country and says to himself, while he is still dreaming: "this place is familiar to me, I’ve been here before," we may interpret the place as being his mother’s genitals or her body', the chapter interrogates the ways in which Butler achieves an uncanny conflation between sexuality and home, between architecture and flesh. The flesh of the female protagonist is described as 'stretched', 'swelling', and 'fat'; her fatness is figured as sexually enticing and yet repellent, her flesh a comfort and a terror. The article concludes by positing a theory of an uncanny geography of fat flesh; a flesh home that is at once desirable and terrifying. It argues that rather than the 'ontological dismemberment' put forward by Evenson, in fact, the book achieves a fusion of flesh and home that is insoluble.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFat Sex
Subtitle of host publicationNew Directions in Theory and Activism
EditorsHelen Hester, Caroline Walters
Place of PublicationSurrey
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4724-3255-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-4724-3254-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameGender, Bodies and Transformation

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