by Zach Worton
I really enjoyed The Disappearance of Charley Butters a year ago, so I was looking forward to getting The Search for Charley Butters. Charley Butters was an obscure and unknown artist who went off to live alone in a shack in the woods in the 1960s and was never seen again. Travis and his friends (I use that word loosely) discovered the cabin in the first book, and Travis became a little obsessed with Butters's journals.
This book opens a year later, and Travis is not in a good place. He was squeezed out of the documentary about Butters that his friend Stuart made, his girl left him, and he started spending way too much time drinking and venting to strangers. Travis gets tossed out of a theatre screening the documentary, and his boss forces him to take a short vacation to pull himself together.
Travis creates a scene on Stuart's doorstep, and then heads back to Butters's cabin, where he discovers a few other things about the artist, and finds himself a little refreshed.
This is very much a middle book. It advances the plot without introducing much in the way of new story elements, instead focusing on Travis's general disintegration. Travis is not a likeable character, but Worton's storytelling is compelling, and you find yourself rooting for him a little. Most interesting is the mystery of what happened to Butters, and who is still living in those woods.
Here's hoping that the next volume will be out at next year's TCAF.