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Softspoken A Chilling And Mysterious Voice Becomes Audible To Sanie Shortly After She And Her Husband Jackson Move Into The Decaying Antebellum Mansion That Is The Bullard Ancestral Home In Rural South Carolina At First, She Wonders If The Voice Might Be A Prank Played By Jackson S Peyote Popping Brother Will Or His Equally Off Kilter Sister Louise But Soon Sanie Discovers That The Ghostly Voice Is Merely A Single Piece In The Decadent, Baroque Puzzle That Comprises The Bullard Family History Rank With Sensuality, Violence, Repression And Madness

  • Hardcover
  • 179 pages
  • Softspoken
  • Lucius Shepard
  • English
  • 03 May 2019
  • 1597800732

About the Author: Lucius Shepard

Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth So when it s written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to escape, eventually succeeding at the age of fifteen, when he traveled to Ireland aboard a freighter and thereafter spent several years in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, working in a cigarette factory in Germany, in the black market of Cairo s Khan al Khalili bazaar, as a night club bouncer in Spain, and in numerous other countries at numerous other occupations On returning to the United States, Shepard entered the University of North Carolina, where for one semester he served as the co editor of the Carolina Quarterly Either he did not feel challenged by the curriculum, or else he found other pursuitschallenging Whichever the case, he dropped out several times and traveled to Spain, Southeast Asia at a time when tourism there was generally discouraged , and South and Central America He ended his academic career as a tenth semester sopho with a heightened political sensibility, a fairly extensive knowledge of Latin American culture and some pleasant memories.Toward the beginning of his stay at the university, Shepard met Joy Wolf, a fellow student, and they were married, a union that eventually produced one son, Gullivar, now an architect in New York City While traveling cross country to California, they had their car break down in Detroit and were forced to take jobs in order to pay for repairs As fortune would have it, Shepard joined a band, and passed the better part of the 1970s playing rock and roll in the Midwest When an opportunity presented itself, usually in the form of a band break up, he would revisit Central America, developing a particular affection for the people of Honduras He intermittently took odd jobs, working as a janitor, a laborer, a sealer of driveways, and, in a nearly soul destroying few months, a correspondent for Blue Cross Blue Shield, a position that compelled him to call the infirm and the terminally ill to inform them they had misfiled certain forms and so were being denied their benefits.In 1980 Shepard attended the Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University and thereafter embarked upon a writing career He sold his first story, Black Coral, in 1981 to New Dimensions, an anthology edited by Marta Randall During a prolonged trip to Central America, covering a period from 1981 1982, he worked as a freelance journalist focusing on the civil war in El Salvador Since that time he has mainly devoted himself to the writing of fiction His novels and stories have earned numerous awards in both the genre and the mainstream.



10 thoughts on “Softspoken

  1. says:

    There are different types of ghosts at work in this story, meaning that there are ghosts you can see and hear, and then there are the ghosts you can t lay to rest that lay within you personally This book, on that level, reminded me somewhat of Stephen King s book The Shining, where isolation leads to a spiral into the dark side.On the surface, Shepard s book is a ghost story, but it s mingled with a bit of drama on the domestic front Jackson and Sanie Bullard are living in a small town in Sout There are different types of ghosts at work in this story, meaning that there are ghosts you can see and hear, and then there are the ghosts you can t lay to rest that lay within you personally This book, on that level, reminded me somewhat of Stephen King s book The Shining, where isolation leads to a spiral into the dark side.On the surface, Shepard s book is a ghost story, but it s mingled with a bit of drama on the domestic front Jackson and Sanie Bullard are living in a small town in South Carolina, the old homestead of Jackson s family Jackson has left his lucrative career to study for the bar exam, and feels that this can only be accomplished in the solitude of the old family home In the house with them are Will, Jackson s brother a peyote addict who sees visions and Louise, the sister who isn t quite all there Sanie is young, and had at one time aspired to be a writer now all she feels is that Jackson s self imposed isolation is killing her marriage and a part of herself as well.So while there are ghosts at work here, the real story is not a supernatural one, but rather a very real look at forces beyond Sanie s control that compel her to try to save what little of herself that she can before the house and its ghosts go to work on her.Very understated, Shepard s prose is so awesome that when he describes Sanie s first foray into the effects of peyote, you can totally feel it at work in yourself.Beware there are no answers here, and the ending is quite abrupt and mysterious, so if you need explanations you may not get them I wouldn t recommend this to just anyone mainstream readers probably wouldn t like it much But if you want a wholly different reading experience, then give it a try The writing alone is well worth the time you put into it

  2. says:

    I found this book to be unpleasant to read but only for me I dislike books where the protagonist is trapped, unable to simply leave a bad or deteriorating situation And in Softspoken , that s exactly the case The main character is stuck in a haunted family home, with her husband, his crazy druggie brother, and their possibly autistic sister And, unlike most of those ancestral Southern homes, this one is hopeless, without charm, and too decayed to love As Sanie wanders the house, taking p I found this book to be unpleasant to read but only for me I dislike books where the protagonist is trapped, unable to simply leave a bad or deteriorating situation And in Softspoken , that s exactly the case The main character is stuck in a haunted family home, with her husband, his crazy druggie brother, and their possibly autistic sister And, unlike most of those ancestral Southern homes, this one is hopeless, without charm, and too decayed to love As Sanie wanders the house, taking peyote in order to see the ghosts, and investigating the family s history, I keep wanting to tell her to leave, to run away Like Truman s Other Voices, Other Rooms, it s disturbing in that you know there s an unpleasant history, and you know that the hero doesn t belong there but you can t make them leave and get back to the real world

  3. says:

    Hugo and Nebula Award winner Lucius Shepard reveals himself as the master of the ghost story in Softspoken, a short novel packed with plenty of atmosphere and big scares Shepard s best work to date has been his novellas, which explains the success of such a compressed novel Critics favorably compare Softspoken to The Haunting of Hill House, Ghost Story, and Bag of Bones, among other horror classics, and to the work of Tim Powers and James Blaylock, who have similarly crossed over They alsoHugo and Nebula Award winner Lucius Shepard reveals himself as the master of the ghost story in Softspoken, a short novel packed with plenty of atmosphere and big scares Shepard s best work to date has been his novellas, which explains the success of such a compressed novel Critics favorably compare Softspoken to The Haunting of Hill House, Ghost Story, and Bag of Bones, among other horror classics, and to the work of Tim Powers and James Blaylock, who have similarly crossed over They also praise Shepard s ability to balance a conventional southern gothic__including convincing minor characters__with the tautness of a well paced psychological thriller.This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  4. says:

    Southern Gothic about a family going mad because their home may be engulfed in a vortex that draws in ghosts, the spirits of living people, reflections of the future, and crows Or maybe not Told by the least interesting character in the book, a bored housewife who can t be bothered to leave a loveless marriage and who becomes an unaware and inactive ghost I don t know why I finished reading this.

  5. says:

    Loved the strong female narrative voice Great descriptive prose HATED the ending Too ambiguous, not enough closure Very dissatisfying Would definitely readby this author though.

  6. says:

    I was hopefully intrigued by this little book The premise reminded me of one of my favorite little sub genres of story Irritating Unlikeable Rich People Get Haunted There was a certain formula movie in the 1960s and 1970s where an ensemble cast of wealthy d bags would find themselves in a haunted house for a long weekend The premise generally involved some super monied dead relative who had written a tenet in his will that required said d bags to be present in the creepy manse in order to co I was hopefully intrigued by this little book The premise reminded me of one of my favorite little sub genres of story Irritating Unlikeable Rich People Get Haunted There was a certain formula movie in the 1960s and 1970s where an ensemble cast of wealthy d bags would find themselves in a haunted house for a long weekend The premise generally involved some super monied dead relative who had written a tenet in his will that required said d bags to be present in the creepy manse in order to collect the inheritance Generally the characters were so unpleasant and greedy that you, as a viewer, rooted enthusiastically for the forces of malevolence.I was hoping for something like this to go down in Softspoken a slender book about a young married couple who end up moving in to the husband s family home while he ostensibly studies for the bar The old house is already home to Jackson s the husband odd brother and sister, Will and Louise Will is a sloppy peyote abuser and kinky sex aficionado The main character, Jackson s wife Sanie, has an antagonistic relationship with Will and it feels like we are really supposed to dislike him As much of a creeper as Will is, I actually found him to be one of theenjoyable characterswhich is already saying something to me as a reader.Louise is merely a will 0 the wisp shadow character who is never fleshed out in any way Certainly she is depicted as being damaged by her childhood with this dysfunctional family in this eerie house But this is never explored and becomes a non satisfying dead end.Along with the living inhabitants of the home, there are the dead Soon after arriving at the Bullard House, Sanie becomes aware of the fact that she can see and occasionally hear these shades from the past The presence of the ghosts was interesting Again, I wish the author had donewith them Who are they What were their stories What was their connection with Bullard House None of this is delineated in any real way.Sanie and Jackson s already strained relationship becomesfraught with each passing day in the house They are obviously headed for disastersupernatural or perhaps,mundane tragedy I found both characters to be annoying and not in a good way Sanie seemed like a spoiled brat and Jackson just came off as a cold fish.There is a culmination at the end of the story and somewhat interesting premise about the power of the house Generally readers on here complain that books are too long and that certain authors are too verbose and require some paring down at the editor s desk Perhaps my general preference for description and detail and the careful setting of a scene is coloring my view of Softspoken However, I honestly believe that the book I just read needed to be LONGER The brief story as is provides a promising outline or treatment for a fully fledged story I just did not find that fully fleshed out story in these pages

  7. says:

    Softspoken, a southern gothic novel from Lucius Shepard opens with Sanie Bullard wallowing in boredom, sipping a Diet Coke, and staring at the out of date farm supplies company calendar on the refrigerator Then she hears what we later learn is the Bullard family ghost Sanie has been left to her own devices ever since she and her husband Jackson moved back to his family s rural antebellum South Carolina manse so that he could cram for the bar exam without distraction Unfortunately, Sanie falls Softspoken, a southern gothic novel from Lucius Shepard opens with Sanie Bullard wallowing in boredom, sipping a Diet Coke, and staring at the out of date farm supplies company calendar on the refrigerator Then she hears what we later learn is the Bullard family ghost Sanie has been left to her own devices ever since she and her husband Jackson moved back to his family s rural antebellum South Carolina manse so that he could cram for the bar exam without distraction Unfortunately, Sanie falls into the distraction category With Jackson locked in his late father s study, his brother Will in his bedroom tripping on peyote, and his sister Louise locked in her room hiding from the world, there isn t much for Sanie to do other than dwell on the sorry state of her marriage and to hear what she assumes are the imaginary voices of her bored mind.Feeling isolated, bored and discontented, Sadie amuses herself by wandering down the road to the local general store and gas station dressed like Daisy Duke and thinking somewhat contemptuous thoughts about the locals Her first time visiting the store she learns from the proprietor that the Bullards have a reputation that tends towards crazy She also finds out that three generations of Bullard men have left home as soon as possible, only to return home and never leave after the deaths of their fathers Rayfield, Jackson s late father, after a long, respected political career in Charleston, is generally thought to have went strange immediately upon moving back to the family manor This is definitely unwelcome news for Sanie.Sanie initially assumed that the voice she had been hearing were the result of boredom or a prank being played upon her by the Bullard siblings However, while talking with Will, albeit after he has taken eight peyote buttons, she realizes that he can hear the voice as well and learns that the family has a ghost named Wallace And that Wallace is kind of lame Sanie attempting to have bitchy conversations with Wallace offer some moments of levity in an otherwise dark book.Sanie eventually comes to the conclusion that there isat work than the family ghosts and comes to believe that the house is surrounded by some sort of supernatural vortex of evil that has been growing through the years by feeding on the Bullard family There s clearly something wrong, but Sanie and Will only see the vortex after taking hallucinogenic drugs, so whether the vortex is an expression of Sanie s psychological state or an actual physical manifestation of evil is up to the reader to decide.It s certainly possible, to quote Shirley Jackson, that the Bullard ancestral home is one of the houses that was born bad, but the characters actions can also be attributed to mental illness, depression and or a deteriorating marriage Perhaps it is a combination of those Regardless, Softspoken is an interestingly creepy short novel of decay

  8. says:

    Sanie Bullard has accompanied her husband Jackson back to his rural home town in South Carolina Jackson wants to study for the bar, and Sanie is left on her own so much that she s forced to confront just how lacking her marriage is Jackson s ancestral home, occupied by his crazy brother and sister, seems to be haunted by some kind of quiet, whispering spirit Sanie keeps herself occupied by hanging around down at the country store half a mile down the road, and finds herself drawn by the flirt Sanie Bullard has accompanied her husband Jackson back to his rural home town in South Carolina Jackson wants to study for the bar, and Sanie is left on her own so much that she s forced to confront just how lacking her marriage is Jackson s ancestral home, occupied by his crazy brother and sister, seems to be haunted by some kind of quiet, whispering spirit Sanie keeps herself occupied by hanging around down at the country store half a mile down the road, and finds herself drawn by the flirtations of a local mechanic The story feels like it s less about the haunting and its affect on the Bullard clan over the generations, andabout Sanie feeling stuck in a bad marriage, trying to work up the courage or energy to do something about it.Shepard writes beautiful, lush and detailed descriptions of the world of the story He also does a great job getting into the head of the main character as well as drawing convincing portraits of the characters around her The Southern Gothic quality is well done I rate this book an extra star just for these things, matters of the writer s craft On the other hand, I found the story too static, lacking even the amount of progression you d normally find in a short story If you reinterested in expressive writing than plot, and don t mind a story that ends not too far from where it began, you may really love this My own judgment is that I found a lot to like about the writing itself but found the story somewhat slight I ll gladly investigate Shepard s other work, but the only recommendation I can give this book is conditional Some readers will enjoy the stillness, others will be irritated at the stuck characters and situations

  9. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here okay. i liked this book until i finished it what exactly happens at the end throughout the entire book you re left expecting a solution to the dilemma she finds herself trapped in, and then of course, by the end you tell yourself, the solution is coming and then it just sort of tapers off. i assume she dies it s very vague on everything near the end, all we know is that this supposed vortex has screwed up the minds of everything she knows, and she has to escape it so where is that escap okay. i liked this book until i finished it what exactly happens at the end throughout the entire book you re left expecting a solution to the dilemma she finds herself trapped in, and then of course, by the end you tell yourself, the solution is coming and then it just sort of tapers off. i assume she dies it s very vague on everything near the end, all we know is that this supposed vortex has screwed up the minds of everything she knows, and she has to escape it so where is that escape was the entire purpose of this book to experiment on a certain mood, the trapped abandonment she experiences throughout the plot thus has no real ending, no real resolution things are left extremely open to interpretation, and i m not sure i like that i don t think i like any ending where i m left repeatedly scratching my head and trying to make sense of head over tail this book had promise throughout, the prose was beautifully written, but it fell apart, in my opinion, by the end too much of that presenting the problem well, and then a feeling like that author didn t quite know how to resolve the problem he s built for his protagonist, so he just writes it off the easiest way he could but despite the poor ending, it s not bad, just that it had the potential to be so muchi still give it two and a half stars if the ending wascomplete, i d give it another star with some change a damn shame.and by the way, since she s dead now, something s gotta be done with her body since frank dean is the one who last sees her alive, wouldn t blamebe put on him than rightfully on jackson poor guy he was only trying to help

  10. says:

    Satisfyingly spooky A genre blend of sci fi, horror, and mystery, this is also a good old fashioned haunted house story in the southern gothic tradition Dorky sci fi humor keeps it from getting too dark Desperate main character, Sanie, hears voices calling to her in her new home, a rumbling old mansion filled with family history This history is her husband s, not her own, and at the moment their marriage is faltering, so she feels left to sort out the phenomenon of the voices herself mean Satisfyingly spooky A genre blend of sci fi, horror, and mystery, this is also a good old fashioned haunted house story in the southern gothic tradition Dorky sci fi humor keeps it from getting too dark Desperate main character, Sanie, hears voices calling to her in her new home, a rumbling old mansion filled with family history This history is her husband s, not her own, and at the moment their marriage is faltering, so she feels left to sort out the phenomenon of the voices herself meanwhile contending with her husband s two off kilter siblings, also in residence There s something about this house that everyone in town seems to know except Sanieand in her quest to understand these unsettling experiences, she becomes acquainted with some very big small town personalities Her quest, unfortunately, goes a little too far STrong sense of place, humor and horror reminiscent of Stephen King

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