‘Shot of Short’ #29: The Copy Family by Blake Butler

Title: The Copy Family by Blake Butler
Date Read: 21 March 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: A family move into a house where an identical ‘copy’ family of them already live. So begins a story where the new family try to oust the ‘copy’ family from their new home.

Afterthoughts: I’ve been mulling over what to write for this review all day and I still can’t come up with anything at all coherent or even close to clever (nothing new on that score). This is undoubtedly one of the oddest, most bizarre stories I’ve ever read, yet I felt driven to read it until the end when, for whatever reason, I felt both moved by the story and somewhat refreshed. I don’t know whether the story is supposed to be allegorical, an exercise in surrealism, or even some kind of bizarre statement about cloning? I have absolutely no idea except that I found it hugely compelling. I hope the author drops by and offers some kind of ‘Idiot’s Guide’ to this story (the idiot being me), but even without that, The Copy Family makes for worth reading – if only for its puzzlement factor.

Notable Quote: “The family took the copy family and they set them on the back porch. The father carried the copy father and the mother the copy mother and the son his. The skins of the two families smushed together grunting. Their sweat became commingled.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).