On rare occasions, like once every ten years or so, if you are lucky, a book crosses your path that is in a league of its own. Laurie Blauner’s latest novel, Out of Which Came Nothing, is one of those rare books.
Alan Catlin, Misfit Magazine no.33, Fall 2021
Meet Aaron, a boy who does not see or speak, whose limbs do not support him, kept bedbound by THEM, a religious cult/sect; Jimmy, his elderly caretaker; and Carly, the homeless vagabond whose violently imagistic inner music washes over us in a hallucinatory rush of the senses. Light was burning me to a crisp. The floor was all milk. Everything in Laurie Blauner’s magnificent Out of Nothing feels as if it exists in another dimension, a parallel universe where people are flesh and the tangible goods of our world endure but the interior emotional fabric has faded to a monochrome. I was in a city full of houses that resembled pink and blue bakery boxes and it was snowing outside my window. Dystopic, perhaps, hyper-realistic, maybe, or most disquieting of all, the real world we inhabit where what is missing reflects our essence. A visionary writer like Ernesto Sabato, we enter Blauner’s realm through her seer’s eye, the velocity of her pacing, and her exquisitely-wrought prose. In this diminished human landscape, the pages mesmerize and turn effortlessly.
Stephanie Dickinson, author of Razor Wire Wilderness
Laurie Blauner’s layered characters, drawn with engagingly lyrical language, seem to move patiently in and out of themselves. Every person has a story that has another story within itself. As the world changes, its mysteries grow. The main character, Jimmy, is a retired man with a strong voice, and the disabled boy he cares for (aren’t we all disabled in some way?) seems to know more than we realize. Could such a life be made real? Here is a fresh, interesting book about stubborn loneliness and identities in a world where Jimmy transforms, as does THEM, a religion. Kindness and need come down to us together and the thin line between dreams is reality.
Rich Ives, author of Tunneling to the Moon and Light from a Small Brown Bird
Laurie Blauner’s voice is lyrical, her imagery surprising and perfect, her societal observations unbiased. Her attention to detail is stunning, while the broad strokes of the story remain subtle and mysterious. Ghostly memories waft through the pages like fragrances. There is poignancy in the characters inhabiting the pages of this novel. They seem resigned to their brokenness, rarely questioning the forces directing their lives. A gentle, intriguing book about loss and change and the fragility of human connections.
Barbara Lindsey, playwright, author of The Walker and Possum
With the sure hand of a writer of great power, Laurie Blauner gives us a novel of our time–a novel in which the world has evolved from the real into the suprareal. In this book everything constellates around an idiosyncratic old man named Jimmy and the mysterious adolescent boy, Aaron, he takes care of, who is perhaps avatar, savant, who is blind and cannot talk, and who cannot walk or use his body in normal ways. The precision of Blauner’s beautifully executed and deeply imagined prose evokes the sense of dreams that are awake and stronger than reality, but are reality. We are presented with the archetypes of our age: the challenged; the world-weary, the homeless, the hallucinators, the would-be saviors manifesting in movements which permeate society and truth, the anxious, the hopeful, the neglected, the lost. Blauner moves us through her novel in linguistic lightning strikes, illuminating and penetrating, but never lingering. Out of Which Came Nothing is a stunning book, a book not so much about the change that is coming as the change that has come.
Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, author of The Absent, Insect Dreams, and Kafka at Rudolph Steiner’s
Laurie Blauner is the author of four previous novels, eight books of poetry, and a forthcoming creative non-fiction book. She won PANK’s 2020 Creative Non-fiction Book Contest and her book, called I Was One of My Memories, will be available in 2021. Her latest novel, titled The Solace of Monsters, won the 2015 Leapfrog Fiction Contest, was listed in Book Riot’s “A Great Big Guide to Wonderful Books of 2016 from Indie Presses,” and was a 2017 Washington State Book award finalist in Fiction. Her three other novels were published by Black Heron Press. Her most recent book of poetry, A Theory for What Just Happened, is available from FutureCycle Press. She has received an NEA Fellowship as well as Seattle Arts Commission, King County Arts Commission, 4Culture, and Artist Trust grants and awards. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Field, Caketrain, Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, The Collagist, The Best Small Fictions 2016 and many other magazines. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her web site is www.laurieblauner.com.