I want a Bugatorium of my own.
In Jeffrey Ford's "Girl in the Glass," the conman Schell has one room of his house devoted to his collection of butterflies. The Bugatorium, as Antony Cleopatra calls it, is a place of repose, where the heroes retreat after the latest revelation. It's where conman Schell gives birth to his schemes.
And, for the book itself, it's a hotbed of metaphor. From the Bugatorium springs the themes of transformation and parasitism that run through the book. But I love the Bugatorium for how Ford evokes it. It's a beautiful, magical place. Here are two descriptions of the room from the chapter titled "The Bugatorium":
The air was alive around us with the flutter of tiny wings, a hundred colors floating by, like living confetti, to mark our success. An orange albatross, Appias nero, the caterpillars of which had arrived from Burma some weeks earlier, lighted on the rim of Schell's glass, and he leaned forward to study it.
I sat quietly, surveying the veritable jungle of plants and potted trees surrounding the table and chairs. The blossoms were as varied in color and shape as the insects. Up above, I could see the stars through the skylight. In his room, Schell had exchanged the platter on his Victrola for some equally melancholic piece, and the serenity of the scene made me ponder this turning point in my life.
Here is a world of fantasy within the home. It's a place where the air stirs with all the colors of life. Lessons will be learned here, but also it's a retreat -- a coccoon -- to hide from the world's terrors. And like any coccoon, it's destined to be broken open.
The Bugatorium is a glimpse of the fantastic created from the everyday world. It is that kind of vision, among many other pleasures, that keeps me returning to Ford's work.