Heralded as "one of America's most intrepid fictional frontiersmen" (Publishers Weekly), William T. Vollmann has few equals on the literary landscape. Called a cross between William Burroughs and Thomas Pynchon, he explores the dark margins of society with a rare and ferocious imagination. In his newest novel, he takes what may be his most daring tour of this world of harrowing, essential truths. Butterfly Stories follows a Henry Milleresque narrator in a dizzying cradle-to-grave hunt for love that takes him from the comfortable confines of suburban America to the blood-stained killing fields of modern Cambodia. The object of abuse and ridicule as a child, the "Butterfly boy" finds his only connection is with those outside of society, the untouchables. It is here that he meets up with Ulrich, the psychopathic son of a former S.S. officer; befriends a hedonistic photographer who travels with him to Southeast Asia; visits Thailand, where Benadryl and prostitutes with AIDS are his ever-present companions; and, finally, falls in love with Vanna, a waif-like hooker plying her wares in post-Khmer Rouge Phnom Penh. With Vanna he will engage in a monumental search for wisdom that will take him to the precipice of hell. Vollmann's most accessible work to date, this exotic, erotic, evocative tale will surely add to the legions of admirers who proclaim him as one of today's most arresting, provocative, and inventive writers.
Grove Press, 9780802134004, 281pp.
Publication Date: August 15, 1994