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Louisiana Breakdown
Lucius Shepard
Golden Gryphon Press, 146 pages

Louisiana Breakdown
Lucius Shepard
Lucius Shepard was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1947. He has travelled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. He lives in Seattle. Mr Shepard has won 2 World Fantasy Awards including one for his collection The Jaguar Hunter. As well, he has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Green Eyes
SF Site Review: Colonel Rutherford's Colt
SF Site Review: Beast of the Heartland

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Summer's here and the time is right. In Louisiana Breakdown, Lucius Shepard summons up a potent mix of music, magic, and the hot, humid air of the Louisiana delta. It's a tale of tradition and betrayal, hope and abandonment, told by an writer who can make you feel the thickness in the air that the characters breathe. Jungles and tropical climes have long played a part in Shepard's fiction, "The Jaguar Hunter" and Life During Wartime are two examples, as places where reality can break down, exposing hidden mysteries and magic. Louisiana Breakdown extends that sensibility to a small bayou town and the people who live there.

Vida Dumars is one of the people that everyone in Grail knows. A celebrity as the reigning Midsummer Queen and an outcast due to a somewhat disrespectful past, Vida is a woman who is haunted by both her past and her future. When signs tell her that it is time to leave town, she spies her escape in the person of Jack Mustaine, a musician whose car has broken down just outside of town. Other inhabitants include Joe Dill, the kind of small-town businessman who seems to own a bit everything in town, and Sedelle, the owner of Le Bon Chance, the local drinking and dancing establishment where Jack is coaxed into playing a National steel guitar. How Vida's plans entangle Jack with the town of Grail and the people who live there is the story of Louisiana Breakdown. As you might expect, this is a town where things are not as they seem.

From the time Vida and Jack meet, the story appears to follow a familiar path. But it steadily becomes apparent that Vida is not a fairy tale damsel in distress, and whether Jack will provide the rescue she desires is an open question to the very end. Louisiana Breakdown is in essence a mood piece, a hot summer's day of a story that aims to draw you into the character's world. It's a world that is familiar from many other stories and films, the Louisiana bayou and the cultural mix that has evolved there. Lucius Shepard's stylish prose brings that world and its people to life. This is a story to enjoy slowly, while sipping on a cold drink, as the humidity climbs and the late-evening storm clouds gather.

Copyright © 2003 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L. Johnson is enjoying the increasingly humid summers at the northern end of the Mississippi River. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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