Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Catching Up with GLIMPSES

Encouraged by my friend David J. Schow (thanks, Dave!), I just read GLIMPSES by Lewis Shiner, a fantasy novel published in 1993.

It's the powerfully imagined story of a stereo repairman and music lover who discovers, while dealing with the fall out from his father's suicide, that he has the ability to imprint music that he has imagined onto recording tape. His fascination with lost and unfinished legendary records prompts him to mentally create a non-existent track from The Beatles' GET BACK sessions, a version of "The Long and Winding Road" played by all four members without Phil Spector's symphonics, which is released as a bootleg single. His partner then sets him to work on other legendary unfinished albums that need recreating: The Doors' CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD, The Beach Boys' SMILE and Jimi Hendrix's FIRST RAYS OF THE NEW RISING SUN. The chapters in which the protagonist, Ray, "meets" Brian Wilson in 1966 and Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and confides in them that he's a man from the future are actually believable, surprising and incredibly exciting.

This novel remains an absorbing, thoughtful and relevant read, despite the fact that we now live in a world in which FIRST RAYS OF THE RISING SUN and SMILE (as a Brian Wilson solo album) exist -- not to mention LET IT BE - NAKED. The chapters involving Ray's personal life are as believable and captivating as the musical ones, and there's a sex scene so vividly described that it becomes a "you are there" head trip on par with Shriner's imaginings of the classic recording sessions.

My only complaint about the books that the final chapter needed more... or less. As is, it's a paragraph too long; the book's conversational closing lines have no resonance and almost make Ray's closing in on happiness seem an almost unworthy goal. I would still enthusiastically recommend GLIMPSES, particularly to rock fans and fans of my novel THROAT SPROCKETS, which probes some similar venues of obsession -- which, I assume, is the reason why David put it in front of me.

Snooping around online, I found a generous "preview" sampling of GLIMPSES here, and author Lewis Shiner also has a website and a special "Fiction Liberation Front" page where downloadable files of much of his writing have been made freely available.

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