The Flitting

Ben Masters

Flitting also means transformation from one state of being to another. It evokes in my mind a butterfly, whose movement is of course a flitting—flittering and fluttering—and whose very condition is a flitting, programmed to fundamental change.

 The Flitting: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons, and Butterflies is a masterful and touching memoir blending natural history, pop culture, and literary biography—delivering a richly layered and nuanced portrait of a son’s attempt, after years of stubborn resistance, to take on his dying father’s love of the natural world. With his father unable to leave the house and follow the butterfly cycle for the first time since he was a child, Masters endeavors to become his connection to the outdoors and his treasured butterflies, reporting back with stories of beloved species—Purple Emperors, Lulworth Skippers, Wood Whites and Silver-studded Blues—and with stories of the woods and meadows that are their habitats and once were his. Structured around a series of exchanges and remembrances, butterflies become a way of talking about masculinity, memory, generational differences, and ultimately loss and continuation. Masters takes readers on an unlikely journey where Luther Vandross and The Sopranos rub shoulders with the likes of Angela Carter and Virginia Woolf on butterflies and gender; the metamorphoses of Prince; Zadie Smith on Joni Mitchell and how sensibilities evolve; and the lives and works of Vladimir Nabokov and other literary lepidopterists. 

 In this beautiful debut memoir, Ben Masters offers an intensely authentic, unforgettable portrait of a father and son sharing passions, lessons, and regrets before they run out of time.