THE BUTTERFLY by Michael Rumaker


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Emotional disturbance, except in very sure hands (most recently Janet Frame's Faces in the Water and Jennifer Dawson's The Ha-Ha) is difficult fictional material- and even less audience-prone. This is a first novel, and the trouble here is as hard to isolate as that of its central character, Jim, a young man who has just spent two years in a mental institution. Little background is given on the case; he is lost, lonely and loveless. However his therapist, Dr. Sylvan feels that he is ready to leave the ""limbo of silence and non-life"" and is ready to stand by his judgment with continued support. Jim goes to the city where he falls in love with the ""smoky"" beauty of Eiko, a Japanese girl, also wistful and sad, who suddenly repudiates him. This again threatens his still shaky hold on life, but fortunately there is Alice to help him return to the world.... At one point, Eiko has given Jim a paper butterfly- the ""symbol"" of his soul-but the book which takes its name from this fragile image may have just as brief a life cycle.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1962
Publisher: Scribner