“In Fields of Butterfly Flames” - A Short Story by Steve Wade - from his debut collection,In Fields of Butterfly Flames and other Stories - 2020
For 11 years now March has been Irish Short Story Month on The Reading Life. Tradition is very important to the Irish, and is badly needed in our troubled times.
I have been following the work of Steve Wade since March of 2013
His debut collection can stand with the masters of the Irish Short Story.
This is the seventh short story by Steve Wade that has been featured on The Reading Life. I first read his work during Irish Short Story Month Year Three in March of 2013. I found his short story “The Land of the Ever Young” fully qualified to stand with the great occult fairy tales of Sheridan Le Fanu or Andrew Lang.
“The Land of the Ever Young" recreates and helps us understand the stories of fairies stealing human children and substituting changelings for them. Part of the root of these stories comes from the famine years where people had to find ways to deal with the starvation of their children. On another darker side, this story also treats of the fact that one more hungry child could be the tipping point in a family on the edge of starvation that can send everyone else into the grave.
First and foremost 'The Land of the Ever Young" is a tremendous lot of fun to read. Joseph Sheridan le Fanu or Andrew L)ang have no better stories than this. I will tell enough of the plot to give you a feel for it but I want you to read this story without knowing too much about it.
The other stories covered show the extent and depth of Wade’s range. (Some of the stories can be read online at links found in my posts)
Today’s story way more than justifies my belief in the immense talent of Steve Wade.
I am slowly working my way through his debut collection, In Fields of Butterfly Flames. The stories are just so powerful I think you must space them out.
“In Fields of Butterfly Flames” begins with a scene of disturbing evil. A man a few days ago just brought home a St Bernard puppy. He loves the puppy so much, getting much needed affection. He comes home to find his dead body, Shona his life partner with whom he has had two children, has killed the puppy. Having just recently added a wonderful Shin Tsu puppy to our family I cannot fathom him coming home to find a puppy murdered by the mother of his two sons. From here the sheer madness of the whole family begins to emerge.
The man decides to adapt, almost as one would a puppy, a child to replace his lost son. At first he fears leaving the boy, he calls him “Dale” after his lost son. We see the madness in Sonia and we wonder why he stays with her.
I do not want to tell more of this plot. Much of Irish literature focuses on dysfunctional families, on marginalized people. “In Field of Butterfly Flames” is a very disturbingly impactful version of this.
About the Author - Steve Wade’s award-winning short fiction has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. His work has been broadcast on national and regional radio. He has had stories short-listed for the Francis McManus Short Story Competitionand for the Hennessy Award. His stories have appeared in over fifty print publications, including Crannog, New Fables, and Aesthetica Creative Works Annual. His unpublished novel, On Hikers’ Hill was awarded First Prize in the abook2read.com competition, with Sir Tim Rice as the top judge. He has won First Prize in the Delvin Garradrimna Short Story Competition on a number of occasions. Winner of the Short Story category in the Write by the Sea writing competition 2019. His
short stories have been nominated for the PEN/O’Henry Award, and for the Pushcart Prize.
From the Author’s introduction
“The stories in this collection first appeared in anthologies and periodicals. Some of them have won prizes or have been placed in writing competitions. Ostracised by betrayal, isolated through indifference, gutted with guilt, or suffering from loss, the characters in these twenty-two stories are fractured and broken, some irreparably. In their struggle for acceptance, and their desperate search for meaning, they deny the past”
A very worthy edition to the reading list of all lovers of the short story.