The True Story of Butterfish
by Nick Earls
Curtis is no longer a rock star. His dad is dead, he has no wife and his life is a mess.
“I’m not about to attack,” she said. She smirked with one side of her mouth and looked up at me through the black spray of her fringe. Her eyes were dark and already she was playing some kind of game with me, or that’s how it seemed. Her voice was a little deeper and huskier than I might have expected, so her last line had come out with a hint of something that might have been menace or even seductiveness or just a pitch at adult banter. Whatever it was, it stuck with me and it punctuated the moment and it didn’t feel quite right for a conversation with a schoolgirl on my doorstep."
With his chart-topping band, Butterfish, Curtis Holland lived the cliched rock dream. Residing in hotels and recording studios, travelling in custom-built buses, he got married after a soundcheck in a wedding chapel in Nevada and barely noticed when his wife left him in Louisville.
But no dream lasts forever.
When Annaliese Winter walks down Curtis Holland’s front path, he’s ill-prepared for a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl who’s a confounding mixture of adult and child. He’s back in Brisbane trying to build a life and he is not used to having a neighbour at all.
So when Curtis receives an invitation to dinner from Annaliese’s mother, Kate, he is surprised when he not only accepts but finds himself being drawn to this remarkably unremarkable family. Even to fifteen-year-old Mark who is at war with his own surging adolescence.
Curtis soon realises that with Kate divorced, Annaliese and Mark need a male role model in their lives, but it’s hard for him to help when he’s just starting to grow up himself and harder still when Annaliese begins to show an interest in him that is less than filial.
Filled with acute observation, humour and tenderness, Butterfish is Nick Earls at his very best.
“Just like all the best songs, Butterfish takes you on an emotional ride, and then makes you want to start it all over again.” – Shane Nicholson
“Nick Earls’ latest novel is an affectionate exploration of music, fame and finding hte things that matter. Earls’ characters are superb, and the conversations in which they make furtive, toe-stubbing attempts to connect with each other are hilariously rich in the unsaid and unintended.” – Thornton McCamish, The Sunday Age
“With The True Story of Butterfish, Earls has moved to a deeper, more compassionate pool. Brisbane is a backdrop, not a character. And the searching of Curtis Holland is poignant and at times emotionally wrenching (there are several laugh out loud scenes, too). There is a real heart to this novel, and and its likely to appeal to his legions of fans but also secure him a new readership.” Matthew Condon, Qmagazine
“It is a tender, funny tale of a man finally coming to terms with adulthood that is touching without ever being saccharine.” – Chris Hook, The Daily Telegraph
“The True Story of Butterfish is consistent with Earls’ established interest in lovelorn men, but it is different in tone from earlier books. If you’ve read and loved them you might want to alter your expectations a little. There is less acerbic wit and an altogether gentler, more mellow approach to the plight of a hopeless man who might be everyman.” – Emma Young, The Age