Butterfly Winter (Enfield & Wizenty, 2011)
Description (from the publisher)
Butterfly Winter, Kinsella’s first novel in 13 years, is the story of Julio and Esteban Pimental, twins whose divine destiny for baseball begins with games of catch in the womb. They mature quickly and by the age of ten they leave their home in the fictional Caribbean country of Courteguay for the American major leagues. Julio is a winning pitcher who will only throw to his catcher brother, much to the chagrin of the team that employs him, which must keep mediocre esteban on the roster. events in the brothers’ homeland, including regular coups and the outlawing of baseball, continue to shape their lives. They are monitored by the wizard, a mysterious figure who travels by hot air balloon and controls events behind the scenes. In his last years he tells the story of the twins and their family to a skeptical ‘gringo’ journalist. Butterfly Winter is entertaining, funny and magical, and includes a diabolical chiropractor, a great love blessed by butterflies and a deep political undercurrent that unites the wealthy north with the baseball-loving and oppressed south.
What the Tiny Monkey thinks
Why the return of W.P. Kinsella wasn't heralded throughout the northern kingdom with hosannas and blaring trumpets I will never understand. Considering that the once-prolific author had claimed his career was over after a severe car crash left him unable to write, the printed return of Kinsella to his three loves (baseball, magic realism, and more baseball) should have been front-page news. Instead, Butterfly Winter slips onto the shelves unnoticed, released by a small independent publisher to a few good reviews. This must be rectified. Kinsella, in addition to being the finest writer there is or ever was of baseball lore (and this coming from an avowed sports unenthusiast), is one of the last true practitioners of the free-wheeling comedic plot practised and perfected by Tom Robbins, Jim Dodge, Edward Abbey, and Richard Brautigan. True to form, Butterfly Winter is a breezy treat, a magical journey to a land where lying is the norm and you can never be sure of the truth. Butterfly doesn't hang together as well as Kinsella's masterpiece The Iowa Baseball Confederacy; its episodic nature and refusal to be tied down to a linear plotline can frustrate. Kinsella's enthusiasm and sheer joy at writing smooth over the rough spots, and if the result isn't the sum total of the parts, well, the parts sure are fine all by themselves. It's good to have W.P. back, and like the best of friendships, I hope he'll stick around.