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Black Butterflies Mass Market Paperback – Mar 2001


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books (Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843948442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843948448
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.6 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 631,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

From Publishers Weekly 6/29/98
Best known as one of the founders of cyberpunk for his novel City Come A-Walkin' (1980) and as 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 outré 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

History and mood of the stories in the book.
Black Butterflies: A Flock on the Dark Side, is a collection of very "dark" stories (publisher calling it the dark side of the dark side)similiar to my book NEW NOIR but more so, deep-crime and nightmarish suspense and horror stories of a rather harrowingly extreme variety, tales of the underside of the real world, attempts to tell stories that would otherwise not get told; first section of the book is labelled THIS WORLD, stories set in the "real" world, without a fantasy element, second is THAT WORLD, stories with a dark fantasy, supernatural horror or horrific-science fiction element. The word is, cumulative effect of reading a number of these stories at one sitting is quite intense. These stories would have hurt me if I hadn't written them down. ALls tories never before collected and two were written specifically for this volume hence are previously unpublished. Nice quotes from Clive Barker and Poppy Brite on a very well designed cover from underground artist and Trent Reznor crony John Bergin...Great design on the look of the book altogether from Bergin...I insisted on affordable trade paperback because many younger fans had trouble finding enough money for my last couple of books in relatively expensive hardcover editions...Gave a reading recently and almost everyone who came - and there were a lot of people - were goth and/or industrial-rock kids which maybe tells you something about the book... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 May 1998
Format: Paperback
_Black Butterflies_ by John Shirley is a collection of a decade's worth of dark short stories by Shirley, the author of _Wetbones_ and writer of the screenplay for "The Crow." Half of the stories involve the horrors of "this world," the dark streets and alleyways of our existence; the other half of the stories involve "that world," the strange and supernatural.
Shirley's stories are dark, intense, imaginative and will often sear images into your brain. Recommended for fans of dark fiction, perhaps along the lines of Clive Barker.
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By A Customer on 16 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book. Without a doubt, original, intense, and scary. It's not horror, and it's not science fiction. Black Butterflies is unique. John Shirley is a vastly underrated postmodernist writer. Anyone who longs for something different should read his work. I did, and I enjoyed it all immensely.
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Format: Paperback
Nobody writes like John Shirley -- intense, literate, provocative, edgy. Each one of these stories offers something different, but each one of them reads like a house afire. Shirley is the Real Thing -- READ THIS BOOK!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 May 1998
Format: Paperback
As the title suggests, _Black Butterflies_ predates body modification and goth mascara. It issues from an era when Patti Smith could write "to me, female means feel male" In spirit, Butterflies freestyles from the period of Lou Reed's "Transformer", a period when a young man who wore mascara was simply seen as a musician, and transsexuals wielded a newly dangerous aesthetic presence. Butterflies also makes neo-Edwardian references to Wilde, of course. We have now had two decade's worth of self-conscious masculinity in music and art; marine-styled fades and mooncuts with razorsculpted sideburns and shadings of facial hair, aggressive muscularity, male voices that veer gruffly toward purism and aesthetic homophobia. More recently, the box office and the pop charts have rediscovered, through the adolescent audience, the adolescent preference for androgynous sexuality. Let's hope that now, in the late nineties, the sacred domain of teenage girls is not simply going to be pirated and pillaged by corporations and cynics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dark, but not entirely downbeat. 25 Mar. 2001
By Stephen Dedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The contents of BLACK BUTTERFLIES have been neatly dissected into 'This World' and 'That World'. The stories in 'This World' lack overtly fantastic elements, and most of them are very frightening indeed. Shirley's version of 'This World' seems to be populated largely by psychopaths who murder and rape as much from boredom and bafflement as anything else; one of the few characters in 'This World' to display anything resembling empathy is the computer science teacher in 'What Would You Do For Love?', and she uses computer models to help predict the actions of people around her. 'What Would You Do For Love?' is not only the last story in 'This World', as though it were a segue into 'That World', it's the first in which most of the characters will seem familiar to nearly all of us, and the first with something like a conventionally happy ending. Shirley's talent is that he enables us to empathise with characters who have so little empathy for others, whether we want to or not, despite gut-punch beginnings that many horror writers might use as a coup de grace. 'That World' throws overt fantasy elements into Shirley's universe, and while some of the stories (such as 'Pearldoll' and 'Aftertaste') are almost conventional horror tales, others are... different. 'The Exquisitely Bleeding Heads of Doktur Palmer Vreedeez', in which celebrities are encased alive in plastic sheathing for a horrific sculpture garden to the enjoyment of Idi Amin, is a enormously over-the-top sick joke. 'Delia and the Dinner Party', in which a little girl's 'imaginary friend' translates her parents' over-dinner conversations, is a gem, and if you'd prefer something upbeat and dislike televangelists as devoutly as I do, 'Flaming Telepaths' will make your day.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Eerie World of John Shirley 27 Sept. 2002
By Jeffrey Leach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Black Butterflies" is a short story collection from horror/science fiction author John Shirley. Shirley, who also wrote the excellent gross out tale "Wetbones," is quite adept at charging his stories with equal parts sex, horror, and suspense. It seems that Shirley spends more time working on science fiction novels, but occasionally, he churns out something like "Black Butterflies." When Shirley delves into horror, look out. He likes to write them lean, mean, and sick as you know what.
"Black Butterflies" is divided into two large sections. The first section is entitled, "This World," probably because the stories deal with everyday reality (I use the term "everyday reality" loosely in reference to some of these stories). The type of stories found in this part of the book varies widely. One story tells the bleak tale of a cop with profound suspicions of his partner. Two tales show the importance of screening people before fooling around with them. Stories about a horror film that is a little too real, an answering machine message one hopes never to hear on their own machine, and the after effects of an earthquake round out the first part of the book.
The second section, entitled, "That World," deals with stories involving supernatural elements. Arguably the best story here is the first one, concerning a little girl and her imaginary friend viewing a side of family life that is both disconcerting and extremely gross. Other stories deal with the end of the world and its aftermath, a sculptor looking for inspiration, an encounter with alien beings who pick up victims in bars, the grim results of mixing [narcotics] with industrial strength insecticide, and a funny story about a battle between good and evil that takes place in a heavy metal/thrash bar.
Again and again, Shirley digs deep into the depths of depravity and despair with this collection of stories. What becomes most apparent as the book unfolds is the intimate knowledge Shirley seems to have with the dark side of human existence. When Shirley writes about the dangers of [narcotics], it seems like he knows about it from first hand experience. There are many authors that festoon their books with endless pages of violence and gore, but few do what Shirley does: create the starkest, grittiest atmospheres in which violence and gore not only unfold, but seem natural to the environment.
One slight problem with the stories in this collection is that many of the stories aren't very original. The horror film story concept has been done, along with the bad relationship/horror story. This tends to blunt some of the book's punch. Shirley certainly has the right to attempt to redo a certain storyline that's been done to death in the past, but more originality in doing so would have elevated this book above the merely average.
... But for a quick dip into this author's eerie work, "Black Butterflies" will certainly do the trick.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant! Reading John Shirley is revelatory. 8 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nobody writes like John Shirley -- intense, literate, provocative, edgy. Each one of these stories offers something different, but each one of them reads like a house afire. Shirley is the Real Thing -- READ THIS BOOK!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
disturbing 14 Aug. 2003
By David Group - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book of short stories is divided into two sections, This World and That World, which deal with everyday horrors and otherworldly horrors respectively. Of these two sections, the first is the most successful, which mostly involve the shocking realities of the underbelly of society, evoking a hybrid of John Rechy and Stephen King, and hitting you with the impact of a screwdriver to the kidneys (the best of these, "Cram", will have you thinking twice about ever getting on the subway again). The second section, comprising more outright horror, is less successful (By far the best of these is "Delia and the Dinner Party"). Though Shirley is a very vivid writer, the shocks in these stories seem mostly arbitrary and forced compared to those in the first section. Still worth checking out, though. I also docked him some points for using rock lyrics as titles-- he's much too good a writer to be slumming like that.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
dark stories for this and that world 11 May 1998
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
_Black Butterflies_ by John Shirley is a collection of a decade's worth of dark short stories by Shirley, the author of _Wetbones_ and writer of the screenplay for "The Crow." Half of the stories involve the horrors of "this world," the dark streets and alleyways of our existence; the other half of the stories involve "that world," the strange and supernatural.
Shirley's stories are dark, intense, imaginative and will often sear images into your brain. Recommended for fans of dark fiction, perhaps along the lines of Clive Barker.
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