Saturday, June 28, 2014
I read the ending of Lucius Shepard's story, "A Spanish Lesson," at the celebration of his life and work KGB hosted recently. This is a story I've also had the opportunity to give to students, and I emailed Lucius about it, to see if he would be willing to provide me with a brief statement about the story that I could pass on to my students.
"One of my writing teachers laid down a rule that said you should never end a story with anything that might be considered as a moral or a message -- so I decided to break it. A great deal of "A Spanish Lesson" is autobiographical. I lived in a small house in a tiny beach community on the Costa del Sol qnd some of the characters were derived from people I knew then....the Nazi twins, not so much. I made myself out to be somewhat more heroic than I was for purposes of the story. In real life I was a fairly disreputable sort, earning a living as a smuggler, partnered up with the guy after whom I modeled Shockley. The moral conviction conveyed by the end of the story was something I could only aspire to. However, viewing my life through the lens of those days caused me to reflect on the person that I had been and inspired me to make some changes. Now that person has been obscured by the intricacies of time and experience, just as the beach community has been swallowed up by the urban sprawl of Malaga, so much so that few recall its name or exactly where it was situated."
Lucius possessed an unbluffable, probing intelligence, incredible capacities of all kinds, perhaps most surprisingly capacious in his curiosity, generous. His humanity was incandescent, like Stepan Chapman's. I salute them both.