Made by Many*

I’m more excited and nervous today than my first day of high school! I also can’t imagine this experience will cause more lasting shame or emotional scarring**, so already we’re ahead!

The time has finally come for me to send my first book excerpt out into the world. That means you, Reader, are the first real-life, non-imaginary-friend person to see these words. And I hope you’ll have something to say about them. I truly think Dead SULs will be made better by bringing as many brains as possible to bear on it.

After a little research and some good advice***, I’ve decided to try a social-reading and -writing service called Scribd for this first experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m going to resist the urge to say anything else and just let the words stand on their own.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go forth, read, and comment!****

Dead SULs – Excerpt1

*I stole the title of this blog post from a wicked-cool design-ish firm by the same name. They say stealing is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

**Which day ended with a senior telling me I reminded him of a character from a movie, Dil the transsexual from The Crying Game. I want to be completely clear that the insult wasn’t against me in this instance, but rather toward the transgendered community. Once again, I apologize to them on his behalf.

***The advice came courtesy of Dan Colman, whose amazing website, Open Culture, is listed among the links below. For the love of all that is good, visit it and visit it often.

****So about the commenting. I’m still figuring out a better system, but for now you can either leave comments on this blog post OR click on the link above the Scribd window. That’ll take you to the website where the excerpt lives, and from there you can comment, download, print, and even turn the text into edible form. I might have made up that last part but you’ll just have to go see now, won’t you.


  • Alexandra Dean wrote:

    Hello Lovely.
    This all feels very new fangled, this scrib’d site and this communal commenting, but I like it.
    Well. Firstly, what a delight to be asked to read an advance script of this quality. You are a brilliant writer, with a strong voice and a unique voice. I had to read the section twice to get a good handle on the tense, because the tense you use is arresting in its immediacy, and the format you use is equally arresting, but because it has both feet planted firmly in our zeitgeist. The first read over I skipped the status updates because they looked like advertisements on the scrib’d site! It made a lot more sense the second time, when I slowed down and read them. Loved the sperm count worry, so real, so relatable. Loved the status updates, and the image of bathing suits matched to birkin bags.
    I did hit one stumbling block. What is a tab? Is it a kind of computer? If so, then should it be capitalized? For some reason not knowing the meaning of the word Tab had me snarled up for quite a few beats. I don’t know if you might want to clarify what it is for the newbie reader, as this is the very beginning and you don’t want them fumbling right off the starting block…?
    I like Chilbert, despite initially finding his obsession with Friends repulsive. I think its because the narrator is so honest about his rage.
    Here’s a thing; I don’t think his rage is incoherent at all. It’s described very evocatively, and is given a source and intention, so it seems perfectly lucid to the reader. I remember my writing instructor at Columbia saying, annoyingly, that nothing worth writing about was “indescribable” and now I find myself feeling that way about the word “incoherent.” Please feel free to disregard that prejudice, though, as I may have simply picked it up from my rather rigid instructor. Love the name IdentifID for the company.
    Here’s my best compliment, and I’ve saved it up for last; I was reading this the first time on my iphone on the bus, and I completely forgot that you were the writer. I was happily paging through and got quite annoyed when I couldn’t page forward to the next chapter. I had to remind myself why I was reading it. I think that is an extremely good sign. Can’t wait for the next installment.
    love, Alex

  • Kirstin Butler wrote:

    Whew… Alex you have no idea how happy I am that you broke the comment silence! And with such thoughtful, on-point feedback as well. I feel like the luckiest aspiring author in the world :)

    I’m in a bullet-y kind of mood, so I hope it’s all right if I respond in kind. (Although I’m going to use old-timey bullets to counter all this new-fangledness which, I agree, can be a little bit much):

    ☞ So the status updates. One of the things I need to talk about in an upcoming blog post is the fact that they’re all “real.” That is to say, some of them were taken verbatim from my own FB Friends feed, and others are transmogrified versions of those status updates. So any resemblance to real life people and situations is not only intentional, but actual… My eventual hope is to get people to “donate” their own status updates to a pool from which I can draw in writing future chapters.

    ☞ The Tab question. I went back and forth on this a lot, because I agree there’s a slightly high barrier to access for the first-time reader overall here. I guess this is a semi-spoiler but in my mind Dead SULs is set around 2014 (that’ll be made explicit in the next excerpt). So I was trying to do a little futuristic visioning/real-life research, and tablet computers are expected to have flooded the U.S. market by then. (Actually around the holidays you might have seen Samsung trying to push a product called the Galaxy Tab, which a capital T, but so far our iPad-besotted public isn’t buyin’ it, literally.) For me the main question was, what would be the colloquial for an unbranded gadget like this that’s become ubiquitous? But I certainly don’t want to lose people right upfront. All of which is to say, I appreciate your point and will keep rolling this one around in my head ;)

    ☞ Incoherent! Yes! A basic writers’ error. Thank you for catching it. I suppose I meant that the rage was incoherent to Chilbert, since he has so little grasp on his own emotional infrastructure, but then I need to make that clear.

    So, so much love to you for your comments.
    <3 <3 <3 Kirstin

  • Stephanie Hopkins wrote:


    I love this. And it scares me. A powerful cautionary tale and/or lure into the post-human…

    We begin without a subject; instead, we have a state of being: waking. The subject-less subject is ungrounded, wholly adrift. When we get to the body in question, we are given a pelvic quiver, the subject-less subject reduced (elevated?) to an urge.

    This is a world in which the body of technology merges with the human body. The language often doesn’t indicate which, or it indicates both: he checks the count (Friend count or sperm count?); events happen beyond recall (human memory or computer?), an inchoate mix of signals (the body’s reactions or the language of technology?). Even the physical body’s most powerful urge—to like something—has been appropriated by the technological; he doesn’t like, he Likes. The fact that we all know what that means tells us that this futuristic world is Now. It is so now, that we are adrift in a sea of gerunds, actions in the midst of happening, that give the illusion of having been and continuing on into some algorithmically determined future: waking, calling, giving, competing, lying, contracting, encouraging…

    When there is a subject, it is often an isolated body part reacting: The heartbeat quickening, a pelvic quiver, blood still beating hard at his temples… Chilbert’s relationship to the screen is highly sensual (he seems much more able to be moved by what happens or hasn’t happened or what he’s constantly waiting to happen) on the screen than by anything in the tangible, physical world. The hyperreal creating effects on the real. And there is a hint of Bataille peeking through—the body that can’t be contained, the body that has to pee. So far it’s just a hint, perhaps the thing that will ultimately undue?

    I can’t say I like Chilbert, but I am most definitely intrigued by him. What makes him tick? I want to vilify him even as I realize he could easily be me, except isn’t he more aware, more actualized, more honest, in a way?—He’s not pretending, after all, that he’s not wanting to check the stream. Isn’t he making himself an agent in this world, actively embracing the loss of the self, rather than slowly letting it happen as if against one’s own will?

    Bravo. Quite simply, you are brilliant.

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