Etienne recounts his life under the employ of a psychopathic lord in 1430s France.
(from McSweeney’s, issue 27)
But even before he chose to sweep back for me the curtain on the full extent of his ferocity, I knew myself to be already standing outside the ring of salvation, having failed so signally as a neighbor and a brother and a Christian and a son.
I’ve always been fond of Shepard’s eclectic tastes for unexpected settings, characters and plots, but I don’t believe I’ve ever been as wowed by his skills for the language as I am right now. “Classical Scenes of Farewell” is breathtakingly told, each word so smartly placed as to seem inevitable. Some sentences invited me to re-read them and appreciate their solitary beauty as well as their purpose within the larger machine. And Shepard seems to take particular delight in describing ugliness with equal parts of bluntness and poetry. Definitely recommended.