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Robert Olen Butler

Robert Olen Butler is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (Holt, 1992), the title story of which originally appeared in VQR. His most recent books include From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction (Grove, 2005) and Severance (Chronicle, 2006).



  John Wilkes Booth, 24, actor Catherine Winslow, 26, actress in his rooms at the National Hotel, Washington DC, after the opening of his production of Richard III, which was attended by President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, April 11, 1863   [...]

Five Beheadings

Fall 2004 | Poetry

I swim in his beard diving deep my breath giving out quickly in spite of all I know to do, all that he has taught me, my Merlin, he has schooled me in the things of the pot—the dragon's blood and the mistletoe and the black willow—he has yoked my dreams to my will, he has fed me four poisons—

The Handwriting on the Wall

This is how I came to first understand the love of a woman. It was 1961 and I was 16 and too skinny to be noticed by girls the way I wanted. I knew the janitor at Wabash Senior High was a drunk and he did his drinking early, passing out from about [...]

Fairy Tale

I like the way fairy tales start in America. When I learn English for real, I buy books for children and I read, "Once upon a time". I recognize this word "upon" from some GI who buys me Saigon teas and spends some time with me and he is a cowboy fro [...]