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by John Shirley
ISBN 0929480864 / 9780929480862 / 0-929480-86-4
Publisher Mark V. Ziesing
› Find signed collectible books: 'Black Butterflies'
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 [via]