17 November 2009

The True Story of Butterfish

by Nick Earls

Vintage Books (Random House). Australian, Adult Other. Paperback rrp $27.95

Guest Reviewer - Jill Smith

Curtis Holland is an overweight former rock star. After many manic years he is now trying to find out who he really is. His father died while Curtis was on the down swing from the circus ride, and his brother Patrick was left at home to deal with the details. Curtis carries with him guilt and many unanswered questions about his fathers’ life.

When he returns to his hometown Brisbane and the obscurity of suburban life, Curtis meets sixteen year old schoolgirl Annaliese. She knows a great deal about him courtesy of Google, (much more than he is comfortable with) and this leaves him feeling awkward and embarrassed with her blatant sexual advances. And she has a great singing voice.

Annaliese’s brother Mark is also a challenge, with his secret tropical fish breeding program and porn-writing money-making schemes. Curtis becomes a kind of male role model for him. Their mother Kate struggles with being a single mum after a disastrous marriage. She intrigues Curtis such that he buys her a sharp cooking knife and shows her simple cooking techniques.

Add to this mix Derek, the star of the Butterfish band and founding co-band member, song writer, ex-friend and totally fame-crazed junkie living in LA, who drops in for a short time visit. It’s a volatile situation.

What would it be like to live the roller coaster, publicity machine life of world famous rock star, then crash back down to reality to live in suburban Brisbane? Nick Earls leaves the reader questioning their own life experiences.

Having listened to the ABC interview that Earls did with lead band member Rob Reiner from ‘ANVIL’, I believe this was the catalyst for The True Story of Butterfish. When Rob told Nick the band was doing well but his relationship with fellow founding band member was another story, I imagined Nick wondering ‘What if?’. To discover the answer, you will have to read the book.


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