Review: ‘Butterfly Moon,’ by Anita Endrezze

butterflymoonThe fifteen stories in this finely honed and well-polished collection have the power to cut away assumptions and alter a reader’s focus and direction as only a storyteller’s magic can do. Borrowed and reshaped from older folktales out of Anita Endrezze’s heritage and imagination, these stories take on new life in their contemporary settings.

In her author’s note, Endrezze writes, “I hope Butterfly Moon will take you adrift in another world that challenges and transforms your perceptions, yet leads you back home to yourself.”

Reality, the oldest shapeshifter we know, dances lightly on the pages of Butterfly Moon and often gives way to enchantments, supernatural events, and the whims of gods and fate. As prospective blessings for the reader’s journey, these stories don’t necessarily fit the traditional narrative arc of a problem leading to a climax. Endrezze’s tales are often unresolved slice-of-life glimpses into her characters and settings that end with a dire occurrence, an acceptance of fate, a troubling paradox or the workings of karma.

The joy, anger, life, and death in Endrezze’s vision are not bound by time, nor are they distinctly separate from the active and sentient world in which they’re set. “On This Earth” begins with the words, The house was a forest remembering itself. The pine trees that held up the walls dreamed of stars dwelling in their needles. When Desetnica leaves home to roam the world in “The Dragonfly’s Daughter” because she is the tenth child, it’s clear that the forest is watching when The blackberry bushes parted their thickets as I waded through green knots of fruit. After I passed, still following the dragonfly, the vines knitted together again, so that I was lost to the other side of kinship and orphaned into the unnamed forest.

While tightly knit into the stories’ plots, myth and symbolism add depth without intruding into the author’s economy of words, understated approach and matter-of-fact reverence to the cultural origins of her material. Endrezze does not explain or editorialize, but her omniscient care is everywhere through this collection from the paradoxes of “Raven’s Moon” to the grim unfolding of “The Vampire and the Moth Woman” to the humor of “Jay (Devil-may-care!)”

For the lovers of myths, legends, and folktales, this collection is highly recommended and a unique delight.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy novels, including the recently released mix of love and fate called “The Seeker.”

Briefly Noted: ‘Butterfly Moon,’ by Anita Endrezze

“Endrezze is adept at making her settings and landscape reflective of what is happening in the psyches of her characters and the situations of their lives. She captures her reader with vivid language and some very unique and startling images.” – M. Miriam Herrera

“When I first found Anita Endrezze’s poems, I felt I had come home. Here was the passion, the eloquence, the originality, the insistent song, that I longed to find. But how could I feel so at home? Endrezze is half-West European, half-Yaqui, her origins, her culture, so far from mine.” – Leah Shelleda

butterflymoonWhat we are drawn to, in part when landscapes and psyches are merged, in part when there is a persistent original song, are ideas and images that speak truth to us even though we’re on vastly different temporal world paths than the authors of the poems and stories.

When a read the selection of Endrezze’s poems included in Shelleda’s deep-ecology friendly collection, The Book of Now: Poetry for the Rising Tide, I, too, felt at home within Endrezze’s words. I looked for more of them because they seemed essential. I’m pleased to say that I found them in multiple places, and for a lover of myths and folktales, best of all in her Butterfly Moon collection of short stories.

The world turns, for some of us, where myth and landscape meet, where worlds merge and where tricksters often command the seasons. Trena Machado put this well in her New Pages review of Butterfly Moon:

“In the mythic way of seeing, there is the archaic layer of our anthropomorphizing nature and the earth that we have lost in our Western culture of commerce and science as we strain the limits of the earth’s balance. Nature has its-own-life-to-itself for which we were once more attuned, held reverence and enlivened by: ‘The house was a forest remembering itself. The pine trees that held up the walls dreamed of stars dwelling in their needles. Jointed, branched, rooted, the trees still listened to the wind.’”

The University of Arizona Press blurb is right when it says that Anita Endrezze’s stories are “Enjoyably disturbing, these stories linger—deep in our memory.” This 160-page book was published last September at a time when industrial excesses and environmental concerns occupied much of our attention, if not our overt commitment. No, this is not a Sierra Club tract; it’s pure storytelling at a time when, in addition to the joys of reading, we need to be disturbed and otherwise shaken up.

Malcolm