Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard

I tried to read this collection before and loved the first two stories but not the third and gave up on the fourth. Not sure why I picked it up again but I read the novella “R&R” first and then had to read everything else in the book. “R&R” is the best novella I have read in recent times, a masterpiece like “Heart of Darkness” and “Death in Venice”; this one has it all, beautiful surreal prose, a vision of a future war that comments on Vietnam and our involvement in Guatemala and reads like Philip K. Dick vision (a war fought with psychics &drugs), stories within stories, demons and spirits, wild children, dark humor, an all around masterpiece. “The man who painted the Dragon Griaule” seems to me a forebear of the type of work Jeff Vandermeer and China Mieville have written in recent years and fans of them should read it. 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.

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