Black Butterflies

Black Butterflies - John Shirley If you see this review pop up in my status update over and over, it's because I'll be adding reviews for each story as I work my way through the book. Reviews are possibly, but not necessarily, in order.

I've never read anything by John Shirley before (at least that I can remember), but have heard many good things. Fingers crossed.

Now on with the individual story reviews:

***** Barbara

What a great short story! A woman gets kidnapped by amateur thugs hoping to force her to withdraw cash from an ATM. Things go not quite as planned. Reminiscent of Richard Laymon, with excellent writing to boot.

*** War and Peace

Two crooked cops, and one of them has a dead wife. Did he do it? Gritty and interesting, but doesn't really go anywhere.

*** You Hear What Buddy and Ray Did?

Lots of drugs, crime, and transexual hijynx in this all around mess of a situation. You'll be ready to shower and brush your teeth after this one. Not for the offendable, and not for everyone. Not sure this one was for me.

*** Answering Machine

A pretty experimental piece in that the entire story is supposed to be the written transcript of an answering machine message about - you guessed it - an all around mess of a situation.

**** The Rubber Smile

A man is working on his doctorate, studying the effects of horror films on audiences. The horror flick THE RUBBER SMILE seems to being having a profound effect on some...
I wasn't digging this story too much at first, but ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

*** The Footlite

You know that girl, the one who died from cum?

This is her story. Very similar vibe and pervasive transexual lifestyle setting as the "You Hear What Buddy and Ray Did?" story. Doesn't really go anywhere, pretty much strives to recreate the experience of sitting at the bar in a sleazy inner-city gay/transexual dive while having the drunk person beside you chew your ear off with nasty gossip about the people who hang out there. Does not increase my desire to do so one iota. Why is the author so enamored with this subset of people living tragic lives, bisexual/transexual junkies and hookers in particular? It is out of fascination, or is this his social circle?

**** Cram

A tight little Laymonesque story, less focused on alternative lifestyle sleaze and more focused on straight ahead real-life horror.

Two bicycle delivery boys are riding in the BART subway, that travels through a tunnel dug deep beneath the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. Hey, they have earthquakes there...right?