The Paris Review

I, a Novelist: An Interview with Halle Butler

Halle Butler (Photo: Jerzy Rose)

I, a novelist, met novelist Halle Butler in Chicago in May 2017. My girlfriend, also a novelist, was reading with Butler at a café in Logan Square. Halle was standing outside with her friend, a novelist, and they were smoking cigarettes. Butler had on a wrinkled button-down shirt from a thrift store, dirty sneakers, and jeans with holes in them. She seemed wry and friendly. At the time, I don’t think she was aware I was a novelist, but as we talked, I couldn’t stop myself from referring to my debut novel, which had come out a couple months earlier. She smiled in a conspiratorial way, then told me she would have trouble remembering the title because she was already drunk. My girlfriend and I were hungry, so we went inside and ordered gumbo. Halle got up to read an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, The New Me (Penguin). She burped a few times, then announced she was a Granta Best Young American Novelist. Everyone laughed when her narrator admits she is “afraid of the taste of water.” I wondered, who is this Halle Butler person?

I wanted to become her friend immediately. This would be a good place for me to describe, in summary, Butler’s new novel, The New Me, but I hesitate to say that it’s about loneliness, alienation, depression, and friendship. I will say that I experiencedThe New Me

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