In Butterfly Winter, author W.P. Kinsella, best known for Shoeless Joe, takes readers back to the baseball diamond, exploring once again the power of the game to shape lives. Kinsella continues to be drawn to the sport by what he calls “the open-endedness of the game.”
“Baseball is wide open. If you don’t have a fence, the foul lines diverge forever, and there’s theoretically no distance a great hitter couldn’t hit the ball or a great fielder couldn’t run to retrieve it,” Kinsella said. “That makes for myth and it makes for larger-than-life characters.”
Kinsella spoke with Bill Littlefield about his first novel in more than a decade.
Bill’s thoughts on Butterfly Winter:
Very early in Butterfly Winter, W.P. Kinsella’s new novel, a self-proclaimed wizard confirms the truth of a story a visiting journalist is investigating.
“The rumors you have heard are true,” the wizard says. “Twin boys playing catch in the womb.”
And away we go.
Shoeless Joe, Kinsella’s extraordinarily successful novel made into the also successful movie Field of Dreams, was set on a magical diamond cut out of an Iowa cornfield at the insistence of a mysterious, disembodied voice.
Much of Butterfly Winter is set in Courteguay, an imaginary nation tucked between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where the only export is baseball players and opposing dictators politely take turns selling the weapons given to them by the U.S. and otherwise running the show. One of the dictators regards baseball as sacred. The other bans the game and sends the army out to shoot anyone who continues to play it.
Kinsella has said that all his books are love stories, and certainly there is love in Butterfly Winter. The plot isn’t easy to summarize, since, as the wizard says, “There is no such thing as exaggeration,” “Nothing is true,” and “The word ‘chronological’ is not in our language.”
Accept those ground rules and you’ll have some fun with Mr. Kinsella’s new novel.