Academic journal article Nine

Butterfly Winter

Academic journal article Nine

Butterfly Winter

Article excerpt

W.P. Kinsella. Butterfly Winter. Winnipeg: Enfield & Wizenty, 2011. 300 pp. Cloth, $29.95.

W.P. Kinsella was considered to be the most prolific writer of baseball fiction for nearly two decades after his first baseball novel, Shoeless Joe, was published in 1982. Many of his five baseball novels written between 1982 and 1998 originated as short stories, in some cases weaving multiple short stories into lengthier, more developed plots. Additionally, his collections of baseball fiction became staples for baseball fiction fans.

Following a 1997 car accident, Kinsella effectively retired from writing, often commenting that he had lost his focus and creative structure; however, after a layoff of nearly thirteen years, Kinsella shows that the time away from writing has not diminished his ability to masterfully weave story with characters who are witty, complex, and share a great love for baseball.

Kinsella's latest novel, Butterfly Winter, deals with the lives and careers of Julio and Esteban Pimental, battery mates from the fictional Courteguay, an often politically charged country located in between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The twins' talents are developed while still in their mother's womb and the first born, Esteban, was born in a catcher's crouch as if awaiting a pitch from his younger brother, who was born wearing baseball cleats. Though Julio refuses to pitch to anyone other than his brother, the boys grow up to play in the major leagues soon after their tenth birthday.

At the start of the novel's third section, Kinsella quotes himself: "When a book is published, some characters get a life of their own" (197). As with his earlier baseball novels, however, his characters' lives are their own but are heavily influenced by other characters throughout the course of the story. Like much of what happens in Courteguay, the twins' destiny is largely influenced by a mysterious wizard who often narrates chapters in the novel and is able to extend his own life, thereby extending his influence over the Courteguyan people. While much of Kinsella's earlier fiction is marked by his use of magical realism, Butterfly Winter focuses less on elements of reality and more on full-blown fantasy, including witchcraft, prophesies, and enough magic to change any circumstance.

Courteguay is known for producing great pitchers and middle infielders more than anything else, though it is also identified by continuous political turmoil and uprisings. …

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