In Parbat’s debut novella, a superrich man reveals the existence of a powerful medicinal plant in the Amazon rainforest.
Faced with indefinite hospitalization for unspecified “multiple health problems,” 70-year-old Mexican billionaire Beet Butterfly escapes his private clinic in Mexico and flees to Brazil. On the way, his helicopter crashes in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The accident leaves Beet in a monthslong coma, and when he awakens, he’s surrounded by members of an Amazonian tribe who saved him from the wreckage. All the symptoms of his disease seem to have abated—and he looks like he’s four decades younger: “Hair had grown on his bald head and he also looked younger and felt younger….He still could not tell whether he was dreaming or if everything really was true.” It’s all due to a sacred, life-giving plant known only to the locals. When he returns to Mexico, his remarkable story makes him an immediate celebrity, but it also starts a stampede of people on a search for the magical plant that cured him. Beet feels responsible for all the attention focused on the tribe, so he returns to visit them to help save their way of life. Parbat’s prose has a fairy tale–like simplicity to it: “Back in Mexico, Mr. Beet Butterfly had been following all news regarding the Amazon Rain Forest and all the stories of all the people who were posting videos of their adventures in the forest on YouTube.” This style, along with the protagonist’s memorable name and the story’s episodic structure, gives the work as a whole a notably fabulist feel. However, the characters feel flat and unpredictable, pursuing digressive plotlines that sometimes come to dead ends. Although the author apparently aims to make a statement about the morality of using the rainforest’s resources, the story is a bit too scattered to deliver the necessary emotional and intellectual impact.
A slim, meandering book that questions the cost of man’s pursuit of longevity.