Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Butterfly Potion by Trent Zelazny

Peter awakes not knowing where he is or how he got there. His possessions have been stripped and his last memory is clouded by distorted images; fragments of time and place. He’s suffering from self induced alcoholic amnesia. With little more than a vague recollection of a bar, he stumbles back to reality in search of those missing hours.

Trent Zelazny’s novella is a quick fire noir with all the hallmarks you’d expect of the genre. There is the man with little or nothing to his name, a femme fatale in Talia - a lush and self proclaimed ‘bitch from Muskegon’, dark descriptions and darker moods, a haunting death, and a sense of helplessness that’s counterbalanced by a two of a kind pairing.

There is a little bit of ‘The Moon in the Gutter’ feel to ‘Butterfly Potion’ by way of reference to the runoffs themselves and the correlation between a luckless man and cleansing of the poison that litters the seedy streets. The quote from Oscar Wilde “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” sums it up perfectly.

Not to be outdone, Zelazny adds a great quote or two depicting the darker tone of noir fiction: “It was a comic book style blue-black outside and the arctic wind was in respite, which made the dirt road and then Garcia Street nothing more than odd dark passages of silence.”

As alluded to earlier, the central character, Perry is haunted by the death of a woman named Allison – the foggy details seep into the story as a warm alcoholic blanket envelopes Perry, oddly clearing his head rather than numbing it – a true sign of the experienced drinker. This adds another dimension to the story, layering Perry’s misery upon misery to include past and present conflicts. The single prospect for a better tomorrow is the coupling of a barfly (Perry) with a butterfly (Talia) though I’m not sure it’s going to end up all blue sky and warm sunshine – this is noir after all.  

I read ‘Butterfly Potion’ in one sitting. As a novella, it’s lean but not without substance. The story flows quickly and includes enough of the past to provide a well rounded sense of the now.

Visit Trent Zelazny's website for more info on the author and his books:

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