"Emerald Street Expansions" by Lucius Shepard: An Appreciation by Jean-Daniel Breque
As a professional translator, I get to work on all kinds of books and stories, from endless epics to haiku-like short-shorts. But whatever the writer, whatever the genre, I know I'll learn something. Sometimes, it's a point of history, sometimes a piece of technical know-how. Thanks to writers as diverse as Dan Simmons, Edward Whittemore and Robert W. Chambers, I discovered the Age of Bronze, Jerusalem, Caterpillar-driving, the wonders of Nature, and much, much more.
Sometimes, I learn something about myself, too.
When I was given this story to translate, I admit I was a bit nonplussed. François Villon? What's he doing here? And if you don't know who he is, just read the story--Lucius Shepard manages to give you enough details about his life and works to make you want learn more, and he does it while moving forward the story he has to tell. Let me just say that Villon was a poet. A French poet. And Shepard not only quotes him, he inserts in the text a few pastiches of his poems.
Do you see where I'm getting at? That's right: I had to translate into French English pastiches of French poetry.
Since I don't want to bore you, I'll skip on the details--buying the complete works of Villon (alas, he only left a small paperback worth of poetry), locating the quotes used by Lucius, and trying to translate his (or his character's) original poetry.
The point is, thanks to Lucius, I learned more about a poet from my country. I learnt something about myself.
In this wonderful story, François Villon comes back--or does he?--to haunt a man with quite a nasty bent. But is it a real haunting, or is LeGary gullible enough to fall for Amorise's con? Won't tell. Read the story and expand your mind.
Mind-expanding, that's the work good writers and good editors do the best. We'll see more from Ellen Datlow, I think.
Link to story.