Black Butterflies

Black Butterflies

Shirley, John

Language: English

Publisher: Night Shade Books

Published: Nov 4, 2015

Words: 84404
Pages: 340


This collection of gritty and intense short stories compares the horrors of the real world to those of the supernatural. Winner of the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. ** ### Review John Shirley, often cited as the first writer of cyberpunk, has been for some years a topnotch craftsman of horror fiction. Those familiar with his novel *Wetbones* and his short story collections, *Heatseeker* and *New Noir*, treasure his work for its antic humor, neon intensity, and oddly endearing descriptions of graphic horror. It's an indication of how unique Shirley is that reviewers have compared him to such varied writers as J.G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Anton Chekov, Philip K. Dick, Franz Kafka, William Kotzwinkle, Elmore Leonard, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Tom Wolfe. *Black Butterflies* is in two parts: eight stories set in "This World" (what we call reality) and eight stories set in "That World" (where the door swings open into the realm of the surreal, the supernatural). In "This World" we meet a middle-class white woman who turns a mugging by two black youngsters into her chance to pursue glory as a criminal; a cop who knows his partner is guilty of murdering his wife; two hustlers who throw a sadistic and drug-infested party at the expense of their bound and unwilling host (believe it or not, it's *hilarious*); "a girl who died from cum"; and two bike messengers whose fate is to join hundreds of other people in a freak accident so hideous it boggles the mind. Almost all of them seem to find some kind of manic deliverance in the most outlandish and horrific of circumstances. In "That World" we creep down a tunnel into a child's escape from reality, witness more than one scene of surreal cannibalism in the service of sexual pleasure and/or artistic creation, and participate with horror and awe in a religious rite in the final days of the human species. John Shirley visits some very strange places, but he always comes back to tell of his adventures in a spare, unaffected voice. He can carry you into the edgiest of human situations and bring you back giggling nervously. Take the risk; go on a ride with him. *--Fiona Webster* ### From Publishers Weekly Best known as one of the founders of cyberpunk for his novel City Come A-Walkin' (1980) and as the principal screenwriter of the cult classic film The Crow, Shirley (Silicon Embrace, 1996) has a reputation as one of the darkest, edgiest, boldest writers around?a reputation that will only be enhanced by this first-rate and fierce collection of 16 stories that includes two originals. The collection is divided into two parts: "This World" is comprised of tales set in everyday reality, although the events, characters and themes covered are anything but ordinary; "That World" contains supernatural horror, dark fantasy and SF yarns. The lead-off entry, "Barbara," is prototypical Shirley, a skin-crawler of a story about a woman carjacked by two punks who outwits, and outsociopaths, them at every turn. Like most of Shirley's stories, it's laid down in adrenalized, jivey yet extremely artful prose that fairly skids across the page, dragging the reader along with it into shadowed corners of terror and desire. Yet while it's thrilling, there's psychological depth in it, too, as Shirley bores into the brains of his characters, revealing the motivations of those who walk on the wild side. Shirley loses nothing when he moves toward the fantastic. A representative tale in the book's second part is "How Deep the Taste of Love," in which a newly minted widower gets to explore his outre sexual fantasies, and then some, with a beautiful bar pickup. Here, as throughout this blade of a book, Shirley casts a story in which the veil of normalcy and habit is ripped away and his characters, and readers, are invited to behold the fundamental mystery of life. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.