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Life of Buddha

Shepard disgorges ideas like a drunk or a junkie, streams of images described in visceral prose that essentially numb you to their force. An anaesthetic effect is present in stories like "Life of Buddha" (1988), in which a heroin addict provokes the transmutation of a male transsexual into a perfect woman. Shepard's characters crave freedom and transformation; the narratives over-reach and become baroque in their pursuit of it, and so lose some of their power. They express the central paradox of Shepard's work: his acceptance and celebration of claustrophobia and the "feeling of stricture" (as in "Griaule"), and his desperate raging against it.
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