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Eternity and Other Stories Paperback – August 31, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ranging in locale from the ruins at ground zero to war-torn contemporary Iraq and a civil war–ridden corner of a nameless African republic, Shepard's haunting, structurally perfect stories in his latest collection serve as a veritable travel guide to geographic hot spots of tragedy and trauma and the horrors they spawn. In "Only Partly Here," a young man cleaning up the site of the World Trade Center collapse finds direction in his life through a relationship with an enigmatic woman who haunts downtown Manhattan and reveals herself to be a lost soul of a different type. "Eternity and Afterwards" tells of a Russian gangster whose navigation through the occult recesses of a sprawling nightclub captures the Byzantine realities of his country. Shepard (A Handbook of American Prayer) manages a perfect meshing of details that bring the imagined backdrops of these tales to vivid life with the psychological and emotional lives of his characters.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press; 1st edition (August 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560256621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560256625
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,752,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I don't often respond to reviews, but I do want to respond to a cheap shot taken at me by Tim Symms--certain of his comments about my 9/11 story, Only Parlly Here, cast aspersions on my character, and other of his comments embody an attitude I find somewhat sad.

Mr. Symms seems especially chagrinned--indeed, insulted--that I dare write about 9/11 not having been in NYC at the time, not joining in the relief effort. Well, I almost was. I was scheduled to fly to NYC on Sept. 12 to attend my son's wedding. When I was able to reschedule, I spent several weeks in the city, some of that time with a group of people who were cleaning up the debris. My story involves itself with that time, not the attack. What really burns me about Mr. Simms' comments is his statement, "Lucius wasn't in New York during the attack. He was in our homeland, however. He went to the movies...", thereby implying that I went out for some light entertainment and some tasty popcorn that same day. Part of my income is derived from doing movie reviews. I was doing my job and, further, when I went to the movies several days later, I was mainly fleeing my apartment, escaping the barrage of horrific imagery on my television set. I wanted to be alone in the dark where I could think about my son, about other matters, where I could feel the beating of my heart,and not have its beats programmed by the insipid commentary of Paula Zahn et al. Doubtless, while I was so engaged, Mr. Simms was saving the planet from his command center in Boca Raton, but that's another subject entirely.

This idea that 9/11 is so vast and sacrosanct that it cannot be touched, that we must wait to savor all its aftertastes, that if it is to be approached at all, we must bow out heads and paint them gray...Where did it come from?
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Format: Paperback
Lucius Shepard, Eternity and Other Stories (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005)

Lucius Shepard is one of America's finest overlooked writers, a man who has labored in relative obscurity (relative, that is, to the popularity he should have obtained twenty years ago) his entire career, turning out finely polished gems of prose in a world that, it would seem, prizes rough cuts. Eternity and Other Stories is Shepard's most recent, as of this writing, collection of short fiction, and like every other book of Shepard's I've read to date, I can unhesitatingly give it the Misanthrope (and Goat) stamp of approval.

While the stories here are very good-- open to a random page and you'll get finer writing than you will in 95% of the books published last year, guaranteed-- the collection is slightly inconsistent. Shepard's penchant for thick, somewhat difficult prose always runs the risk of a story getting bogged down in a lack of pace, and it does happen here on occasion; "Hands Up! Who Wants to Die?" is an especially slow trek, without the kind of million-dollar payoff at the end that makes some difficult books among the best you'll ever read (Grass' Dog Years and Walker's The Secret Service come to mind). But these are balanced out by the stories that, while still thick going, grab you and absolutely refuse to let go until you've turned the final page; these comprise the bulk of the book. "Jailwise" and "Eternity and Afterward," the book's final two pieces, are especially good at this sort of thing, despite being the two longest stories here (I didn't count words, but I'd be willing to bet that "Eternity and Afterward" is almost as long as Shepard's brilliant 2004 novel Viator); they caused me to forgo food and sleep.
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Format: Paperback
I'll comment on the first review posted here as well. "Only Partly Here" ain't whimsical, superficially or otherwise. (I'm hard-pressed to think of a "whimsical" Lucius Shepard story, maybe a few darkly humorous ones, but that's about it.) One erroneous and tangential set of comments about a single story in a book doesn't add up to a review; I don't get it. Equally puzzling to me is this reference to Mr. Shepard's "high period" during the 80s. He first hit the scene during the 80s, but for anyone paying attention, Lucius Shepard's high period is right now; for the last few years, he's published well over a quarter million words of short fiction annually -- in addition to a novel now and then -- and nearly all of it superior to his work in the 80s that won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. This is a fine, representative collection of what he's been up to. There's not another writer working that can so deftly capture and amplify the atmosphere of foreign settings and cultures, using the fantastic to achieve an effect of both utter realism and profound strangeness. You'll come away with a feeling of having understood current Russia, Iraq, Central America, and Africa, and, yes, Ground Zero on a visceral level. Amazing, eye-opening stuff.
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Format: Paperback
Lucius Shepard's vision has transformative powers - both for his characters and for the reader. These masterfully crafted stories create highly individual worlds that are dark, fantastical, deeply human and always believable despite the surreal twists. You'll never see crocodiles and lizzards the same way after this - whether as agents of horror or kindred souls to lost humans, they are always mysterious manifestations of human rapaciousness, madness or loneliness.

You will go to the moral chaos of gangsterist Russia, the jungles of South America, Africa, a rather strange American prision, and the aftermath of 9/11. There is definitely a `fantastical' and dream-like streak in these stories, but not so much for fantasy's sake as in the sense that the boundaries of the real, the possible and the explicable are imaginatively stretched to reveal the horrors or mysteries that lie beyond. Unlike most `fantastical' or SF writing, this is fiction primarily concerned with people, places, and ideas. Lucius Shepard's grasp of foreign cultures and places is second to none in American fiction, and I dare say in English-language fiction. He makes writers far more famous than him seem dull and provincial.

I envy those about to discover this marvellous writer. If you hunger for more after you finish this, his novel A Handbook of American Prayer is likewise wild, brilliant and disturbing. His shorter novel Trujillo is a dark gem, and I'm about to chomp my way through the rest of his work. I'm addicted.
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