Review: "Kalimantan" by Lucius Shepard

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p-m agapow

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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"Kalimantan" by Lucius Shepard
A Postview, copyright 1997 p-m agapow

MacKinnon is an undisciplined and wide-eyed American expatriate, come to
the heart of Borneo in pursuit of glamour and danger. Forced to flee into
the jungles of Kalimantan, he discovers a native drug that places him in
contact with the spirit world. As his experiments continue, the hills
fill with spirits from a time gone past.

There's always been something very Conradian about Shepard, and
"Kalimantan" owes more than a little to "Heart of Darkness." Even the way
it is told - a narrator who took part in the story telling it to an
anonymous third party - is reminiscent of Conrad's novel. If you are
looking a brooding psychodrama like "Heart of Darkness" rather than an
action-packed shoot-em-up, "Kalimantan" is for you.

Borneo is a claustrophobic environment conveyed well by Shepard, with
ghosts flitting (literally) around every corner. The cast is populated by
dissolutes and degenerates, from a senile botanist stranded high in the
jungle, through the foolish MacKinnon to a scheming native witch. The
prose is lush and dreamy, perhaps too florid for some, conveying the thick
jungles and atmosphere of the story. It is true that the characters only
dimly understand in what story they are taking part. This is perhaps even
true of Shepard. To the reader it only matters slightly.

A mere slip of a book, "Kalimantan" often crops up on sales tables for
much less than its coverprice and so I recommend you keep an eye out
there. [***/interesting] and a crushed linen suit on the Sid and Nancy
scale.

%A Lucius Shepard
%B Kalimantan
%I Legend
%C London
%D 1990
%G ISBN 0-7126-3679-X
%P 160pp
%O hardback, Aus$19.95

paul-michael agapow (aga...@latcs1.oz.au), La Trobe Uni, Infocalypse
"There is no adventure, there is no romance, there is only trouble and desire."
[archived at http://www.cs.latrobe.edu.au/~agapow/Postviews/]

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