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Butterfly Stories
     

Butterfly Stories

4.0 1
by William T. Vollmann
 

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Butterfly Stories follows a dizzying cradle-to-grave hunt for love that takes the narrator from the comfortable confines of suburban America to the killing fields of Cambodia, where he falls in love with Vanna, a prostitute from Phnom Penh. Here, Vollmann's gritty style perfectly serves his examination of sex, violence, and corruption.

Overview

Butterfly Stories follows a dizzying cradle-to-grave hunt for love that takes the narrator from the comfortable confines of suburban America to the killing fields of Cambodia, where he falls in love with Vanna, a prostitute from Phnom Penh. Here, Vollmann's gritty style perfectly serves his examination of sex, violence, and corruption.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The prolific Vollmann weighs in with at least his third hyper-realized meditation on female prostitution. But whereas Whores for Gloria had an imaginative conceit worthy of Borges and Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs teetered provocatively between a Baedeker and a Book of the Dead, his latest effort falls a bit flat. The ``Butterfly Boy'' grows up as a nerdish American kid who is routinely abused by bullies at school. His adolescent trials, configured against a backdrop of American atrocities in Vietnam, are relieved only by the affections of a particularly plucky girl who then moves away. This sets the stage for the protagonist's adult explorations of love and violence in the Far East, where, as ``the journalist,'' he pals with ``the photographer,'' and together they insist on developing relationships with a series of prostitutes. As always, Vollmann's style--gritty detail stirred with hallucinated fancy--perfectly serves his investigation of the profane, which in this case includes the vile horrors exacted by the Khmer Rouge. However, the heart of this darkness is not convincingly evoked, and readers may begin to wonder if the exoticism of the Orient and its women is not just a handy occasion for Vollmann to act out a forbidden fantasy. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This is not a collection, as the title suggests, but a novel. The main character, known as ``the butterfly boy'' in grade school but now simply called ``the journalist,'' travels to Southeast Asia to investigate the prostitution problem, accompanied by a photographer. The latter proves to be an impeccable sex tourist, but the journalist is inept. He forgets to use a condom the very first night and suffers from an ever-worsening barrage of fevers and infections thereafter. Then he falls in love with one of the prostitutes and decides to marry. Typically, Vollmann is more interested in the sordid aspects of his tale than in its erotic potential. The tone is sober, almost scholarly, complete with bibliographical notes on source material ranging from Tacitus to Nazi aviator Hanna Reitsch's memoirs. Shorter and more focused than the ``Seven Dreams'' sequence of novels, this title presents Vollmann's trademark obsessions in a new light. For larger fiction collections.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802134004
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
323,952
Product dimensions:
5.47(w) x 8.19(h) x 0.77(d)

Meet the Author

Known as a bit of a "dark horse" of contemporary literature, William T. Vollman has garnered acclaim from readers and critics alike for the boldness and raw originality of his works, which often combine fictional and journalistic techniques. "Whether Dostoyevskifying the detective novel or offering boundless books-of-Genesis, Vollmann has had an ability to conjure tomes in a range of genres that is increasingly Faustian," observes The Village Voice.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Sacramento, California
Date of Birth:
July 28, 1959
Place of Birth:
Santa Monica, California
Education:
Attended Deep Springs College and Cornell University

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Butterfly Stories 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago