Thursday, January 10, 2013

Valentine : Lucius Shepard


Valentine
By Lucius Shepard

Really liked this.

The narrator, Russell, and his former lover, Kay, by coincidence, happen to stay in adjoining rooms in a hotel in a small town in Florida.  They get trapped by a hurricane and rekindle their relationship.

The narrator, is a writer and the story is a letter, a valentine of sorts, to his lover (addressed to as 'you').

Shepard uses mouthfuls, to describe the environment, the setting, the protagonist's lover and their love, with prose that is beautiful and lyrical.
   You were nibbling a slice of pineapple.  The breeze handled your hair, lifted the collar of your blouse, and your left hand was posed in a mudra against the lap of your tan slacks.  I had a sense I had caught you in a private mood, one I had not seen before, that perhaps no one had seen.  There was a calmness collected in your eyes, in the sculpture of your mouth, that seemed altogether unfamiliar, of such magnitude and concentration I didn't believe it would manifest if you were distracted by the presence of a companion.  It was though you had floated away from me, and I was spying on you from cover...I remembered watching a jaguar come down to drink at the margin of a jungle lake in Guatemala, watching a drunk young girl dancing by herself to a jukebox romance in a Guayaquil bar, and other glimpses of the kind, those sudden, secret observances that stay in our minds and somehow connect and sustain the rest of life, as if life were a fabric and they were pins it was stretched between.  It was like that watching you as I sipped my coffee, on the bench besides you, hidden from your sight.
The story is set within a span of a few days and the characters spend most of the time, making love, talking and occasionally going out to see the sights of the small town: mini-golf, etc.

Interestingly, towards the end, Shepard injects a sliver of doubt into the entire story and on the reliability of the narrator.  Is this entire valentine an elaborate love story that the narrator has created?  Or did this really happen and because it's a story of love, it has details that are one in a million odds?

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