Having recently championed a relative new comer to the literary sandbox—an advocacy which was validated by no less personages than Katherine Powers and Ron Charles, I am inclined to put my tenuous reputation on the line with, as the hipsters say, a “shout-out” for the Sage of Williamstown, Williams mentor Jim Shepard upon the publication of his latest short fiction collection you think that’s bad. Shepard, author of nine books of fiction (short and long) is cursed with that
the career stifling rubric ” a writer’s writer” thus you need not puzzle out his relative obscurity and this unforgivable lapse
in your literary savvy. .
His newest cornucopia of eleven short fictions perambulates from the obscure stage of a so called black world operative,to a confrere of Joan of Arc who is aroused by slaughtering children; to the inventor of Godzilla films; to a GI involved in the WWII invasion of New Guinea; to a group of Polish mountain climbers specializing in winter mountaineering.
My favorite (a term I use loosely)is “The Netherlands Lives with Water” set in not-to-far-in future Rotterdamn. Its a nifty blend of scientific speculation about impending planetary doom and love story:
We’re raised with the double message that we have to address our worst fears but that nonetheless they’ll also somehow domesticate themselves. Fifteen years ago Rotterdam Climate Proof revived “The Netherlands lives with water” as a slogan, the accompanying poster featuring a two panel cartoon in which towering wave in the first panel is breaking before its crest over a terrified little boy, and in the second it separates into immense foamy fingers she can relievedly shake its hand.
Shepard also guest edited the Fall 2010 edition of Ploughshares