Five Autobiographies and a Fiction
Dust jacket by J. K. Potter
Five Autobiographies and a Fiction, the long-awaited new collection from master storyteller Lucius Shepard, is a significant publishing event, a volume equal in every way to such earlier Shepard classics as The Jaguar Hunter and The Dragon Griaule. Its six long stories offer narrative pleasures as diverse and profound as anything to be found in modern imaginative fiction.
“Ditch Witch,” set in rural Oregon, concerns a young man on the run in a stolen car, a hitchhiker who may or may not have witch-like powers, and the bizarre inhabitants of the seemingly innocuous Elfland Motel. “The Flock” is a tale of high school football and small town malaise set against an impossible intrusion from the natural world. A washed-up actor and a Malaysian “woman of power” stand at the center of “Vacancy,” the account of a man forced to confront the very real demons of his past. “Dog-eared Paperback of My Life” follows a writer (Thomas Cradle) on his erotically charged journey down the Mekong River, a journey enveloped in a maze of multiple, interpenetrating realities.
“Halloween Town” tells the story of a small, extremely strange town and one of its denizens, Clyde Ormoloo, a man who sees too deeply into the “terrible incoherence” of human affairs. The final story, “Rose Street Attractors,” takes us into 19th century London and the heart of the steampunk era — in the richly atmospheric tale of a most unusual haunting. Rounding out this generous volume is an Introdution in which Shepard offers a startlingly frank assessment of his own troubled adolescence, identifying the “alternate versions” of himself that appear in these pages and illuminating those points at which fiction and “near-autobiography” converge.
Lyrical, brutal, and always powerfully composed, Five Autobiographies and a Fiction is something special. Each of these six novellas speaks in its own distinctive voice. Each one takes us into the heart of a thoroughly imagined world. Only Lucius Shepard could have created those worlds. Only Lucius Shepard could have given us this book.
Table of Contents:
- Ditch Witch
- The Flock
- Dog-Eared Paperback of My Life
- Halloween Town
- Rose Street Attractors
Lucius Shepard (1947–2014) was an American writer. Classified as a science fiction and fantasy writer, he often leaned into other genres, such as magical realism. His work is infused with a political and historical sensibility and an awareness of literary antecedents.
Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to escape, eventually succeeding at the age of fifteen, when he traveled to Ireland aboard a freighter and thereafter spent several years in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, working in a cigarette factory in Germany, in the black market of Cairo's Khan al Khalili bazaar, as a night club bouncer in Spain, and in numerous other countries at numerous other occupations. On returning to the United States, Shepard entered the University of North Carolina, where for one semester he served as the co-editor of the Carolina Quarterly. Either he did not feel challenged by the curriculum, or else he found other pursuits more challenging. Whichever the case, he dropped out several times and traveled to Spain, Southeast Asia (at a time when tourism there was generally discouraged), and South and Central America. He ended his academic career as a tenth-semester sophomore with a heightened political sensibility, a fairly extensive knowledge of Latin American culture and some pleasant memories.