Books of the Brave
They illuminated the rumples in ragged shirts and the ragged ends, as well and the wrinkles in faces. They traced the shapes of glasses, bottles, tables, spiderwebs, the electric fan, light bulbs and their cords. They glowed nebular in the liquor, they became the smoldering ends of cigarettes, they mapped the spills on the counter and turned them into miniature phosphorescent seas.
The Sikorsky helicopter gunship pilots use special high-tech helmets that link them to their machines, blurring the lines between, and yet the pilots are so superstitious that the refuse to remove their helmets even when on the ground. This is nearly novella-length, and much befalls Mignolla in hallucinatory, magic-realist, unnerving detail. I highlighted dozens of passages worth sharing, but will just choose just one at random: Moonlight edged the wavelets with silver, and among those gleams it seemed he could see reflected the broken curve of his life: a kid living for Christmas, drawing pictures, receiving praise, growing up mindless to high school, sex, and drugs; growing beyond that, beginning to draw pictures again, and then, right where you might expect the curve to assume a more meaningful shape, it was sheared off, left hanging, its process demystified and explicable.
He realized how foolish the idea of the ritual had been. Like a dying man clutching a vial of holy water, he had clutched at magic when the logic of existence had proved untenable. Now the frail linkages of that magic had been dissolved, and nothing supported him— he was falling through the dark zones of the war, waiting to be snatched by one of its monsters. While trying to face the reality of their disintegrating relationship, they encounter a strange, unwashed and eccentric expat named Dowdy who claims to have given up a programming career in Silicon Valley to become apprentice to a local wizard and learn his arcane wisdom.
The couple are skeptical, but out of boredom and curiosity they decide to meet with the old mystic with unexpected results. This is what he tells them: The world is not one but many. Thousands upon thousands of worlds. Even those who do not have the power of clear sight can perceive this if they consider the myriad realities of the world they do see. When it has gained dominance, the old age will end and the new begin. An older retired American expat meets a younger man named Ray. They exchange stories about the strange lights of the Burying Ground and the history of the island.
Shepard has some great descriptions of expats and how they work. Travelers, they call themselves, and in truth, travel is their only area of expertise. They know the cheapest restaurant in Belize City, how to sleep for free on Buttermilk Key, the best sandal maker in Panajachel; they have languished in Mexican jails, contracted dysentery while hiking through the wilds of Olancho, and been run out of various towns for drug abuse or lack of funds. But despite their knowledge and experience, they are curiously empty young men, methodical and unexcitable, possessing personalities that have been carefully edited to give the least effrontery to the widest spectrum of the populace.
The buildings are decorated all in classic Nazi style but Mengele seems strangely forthright about his identity. The staff have a strange, deformed manner, recalling forcefully H. Mingele explains his story thus: I had never seen myself as an evil man. Only a committed one.
And now the focus of my commitment— National Socialism— had failed. It was inconceivable to me, though, that the principles underlying it had failed, and I came to the conclusion that the failure could probably be laid to a misapprehension of those principles. Things had happened too fast for us. We had always been in a hurry, overborne by the needs of the country; we had been too pressured to act coherently, and the movement had become less a religion than a church. Empty, pompous ritual had taken the place of contemplated action.
But now I had no pressure and all the time in the world, and I set out to understand the nature of evil. The conclusion of the story is surreal and ominous. There were other dragons in those days, most dwelling on the rocky islands west of Patagonia— tiny, irascible creatures, the largest of them no bigger than a swallow. But Griaule was one of the great Beasts who had ruled an age. Over the centuries he had grown to stand feet high at the midback, and from the tip of his tail to his nose he was six thousand feet long. It should be noted here that the growth of dragons was due not to caloric intake, but to the absorption of energy derived from the passage of time.
Had it not been for a miscast spell, Griaule would have died millennia before. The wizard entrusted with the task of slaying him— knowing his own life would be forfeited as a result of the magical backwash— had experienced a last-second twinge of fear, and, diminished by this ounce of courage, the spell had flown a mortal inch awry. His heart had stopped, his breath stilled, but his mind continued to seethe, to send forth the gloomy vibrations that enslaved all who stayed for long within range of his influence. The story is a parable open to many interpretations, and is written very much in the style of Borges who I am reading right now.
It centers on the man Meric Cattanay and his proposal to destroy the dragon and its dark influence on the surrounding lands and people by painting its body with a wondrous mural.
It pits art against a dark influence so subtle that it defies description. Meric devotes four decades to painting the dragon, going through the many vicissitudes of life, both ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments, and eventually reaches the end of his labors. It is a mysterious and ambiguous story, but well worth reading. Notably, Shepard wrote several more stories that share the same themes and framework, collected as The Dragon Griaule by Subterranean Press. It is the story of a young traveling expat who settles in a small Mediterranean fishing village that has an enclave of bohemian foreigners who spend much of their time taking and dealing drugs, dabbling in novels and poetry, and feeling superior to the surrounding locals.
One day a very strange young pair of twins, blond, frail, and awkward, show up in their village and start to disrupt the rhythms of life. Things get extremely weird when the narrator finds a secret diary entry by the twins that reads as follows. But as we well remembered his habit of reviving the dead for a final bout of torture, we were afraid that he might have set an igniter in his cells to ensure rebirth, and so we waited while the wine in his goblet turned to vinegar and then to a murky gas that hid him from our view.
Nothing had changed. The garden of hydrophobic roses fertilized with his blood continued to lash and slather, and the hieroglyphs of his shadow selves could be seen patrolling the streets. View all 11 comments.
- Let There Be Lite.
- Sentimental Me: Travel Mystery Suspense.
- Redshift: Greenstreem.
- The Jaguar Hunter;
- Hispanic Studies and Researches on Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
- Biology Bytes: Digestible Essays on Animals Both Commonplace and Bizarre;
It was great that Arkham house published Mr. The man had magic in his writing, and was able to convey it to his audience.
IV. Nouveaux publics, histoire et pouvoir
This is a great compilation of his stories. View 2 comments. Buen relato. Impresionante relato. Un piloto en apuros se ve obligado a realizar un aterrizaje de emergencia en las selvas de oeste de Paraguay. Gran relato. Otro relato impresionante. I tried to read this collection before and loved the first two stories but not the third and gave up on the fourth. The rest of the book is a mix of pulpy content other dimensions, ghosts, trapped aliens, brujos, drug visions, Nazis mixed with great prose and character writing and as much potential for cheese as there seems to be in these stories they veer away from that and have the tone of surreal menace.
Absolutely great collection…Shepard has finally won me over.
Lo que nos cuenta. Apr 09, Bogdan rated it really liked it Shelves: horror-lovecraftian. Lucius Shepard desi este vazut ca un scriitor de science fiction si fantasy, mai construieste deseori si alte lucrari ce apartin unui realism magic, multe dintre aceste povestiri fiind inchinate misterului si supranaturalului, cum este cazul si antologiei de fata. In a castigat John W.
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In antologia de fata sunt cuprinse o serie de 12 povestiri cu teme care mai de care mai variate, insa in toate se reintalneste necunoscutul si misterul ca principale obsesii ale scriitorului, fraza prezentand o anumita poezie a intamplarilor si imaginilor, aducandu-mi aminte in unele momente de K. Bishop, daca ar fi sa fac o paralela. Nu poti sa nu remarci abundenta intamplarilor in care se face referire la razboiul din Vietnam, sau chiar daca nu este aleasa aceasta locatie, orice alt razboi, planurile construindu-se atat pe scheletul unor intamplari fantastice cu radacini in scrierile lui Lovecraft cat si pe trairile interioare si framantarile personajelor confruntate cu ororile razboiului si diverse alte situatii limita.
Cu alte cuvinte se poate observa o puternica amprenta psihologica aplicata povestirilor sale, angoasa, nelinistea si uneori nebunia constituind adevarat puncte de reper si de inspiratie pentru scriitor, gravitand cu insistenta in conturarea diverselor caractere si personalitati ce-i populeaza si condimenteaza povestirile. Totusi, daca povestirea are toate sansele sa tina in priza un cititor si sa-l conecteze cu succes la firul ei, finalul m-a lasat un pic frustrat deoarece contrazice intreaga idee si sentimentele consumate pentru a se ajunge acolo, antrenand un registru larg de resurse ce culmineaza cu sacrificiul suprem.
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