THE VOICE OF THE BUTTERFLY

John Nichols, Author . Chronicle $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8118-3201-4

Nichols plumbs a familiar, wacky vein in this completely over-the-top sendup of the mindless ambitions of our shallow, materialistic, upwardly mobile modern-day society. Reading as if written in one extra-long sitting, this 10th novel by the acclaimed author of the New Mexico trilogy (Milagro Beanfield War; Magic Journey; Nirvana Blues) is a hypercharged, adjective-crowded rant, alternately cheeky social satire and eye-poppingly lurid tale. Charley McFarland, an aging, tree-hugging ex-flower child, is waging a desperate, all-out political battle to prevent the money-grabbing town movers and shakers from bulldozing a highway bypass through the last breeding grounds of the exotic (though actually rather unimpressive), rare and endangered Rocky Mountain Phistic Copper butterfly. Stalked by Susan Delgado, lustful punk rock girl reporter, Charley spearheads the Butterfly Coalition, a motley collection of unwashed town misfits including Luther, Charley's feckless 20-year-old son, who works at the Burger Boy fast food joint; 90-something dowager Lydia Arlington Babcock, a last-gasp chain-smoker and owner of the butterfly refuge; and Kelly, Charley's alcoholic ex-wife, who—despite a brain fried on drugs—writes the coalition's press releases in between detox stays at the local jail. Silly, tasteless, wild, profane and often laugh-out-loud funny, this book will put off many readers, but will hit the spot for those with entrenched grudges against recent social developments and a curmudgeonly taste in comedy. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/04/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8118-3990-7
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