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Our Ecstatic Days

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In the waning summer days, a lake appears almost overnight in the middle of Los Angeles. Out of fear and love, a young single mother commits a desperate act: convinced that the lake means to take her small son from her, she determines to stop it and becomes the lake's Dominatrix-Oracle, "the Queen of the Zed Night." Acclaimed by many critics as Steve Erickson's greatest no ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 18th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2005)
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in the realm of things that make no sense, allow me to submit the following: why is the sequel to one of the best books i have ever read in print, but not its predecessor?? seriously harpercollins, give up the goods! if you don't want to print it anymore, give it to simon and schuster so i don't all the time have to be telling people, "yeah, it's good, but you should read The Sea Came in at Midnight first. really." that's just losing sales for poor s&s, but i stand by it, in the interests of ...more
The uterine life so cruelly taken—and then so miraculously restored—in a memory-starved Tokyo during the final pages of The Sea Came in at Midnight provides the central pivot for the multiple dream passages in which the principal personalities interact and intersect, hurt and heal, as Our Ecstatic Days weaves its undulating spell upon the reader. Never has Erickson so masterfully steered his ship of the surreal and the exotic across the benighted oceans of consciousness, wherein lurks the wonde ...more
Ravenous. Starving. Volatile for something absent in you.
And then Steve Erickson: and your sick, tired heart learns to beat again, slowly at first, then accelerating, and you find yourself on the kitchen floor beside a half-eaten salad haphazardly thrown together while you kept the book in one hand, forearms on your knees, eyes flying over pages, and it's not quite the first read, when you couldn't breathe four years ago, no ---

but there are moments when you know, you are just absolutely fucking
Larry Massaro
Perhaps the most tedious and pretentious thing I've ever read. Every page made me angry. I kept wondering if at some climactic point all the fake profundity and pointless "structural experimentation" would be redeemed. It wasn't. The whole thing struck me as adolescent: Erickson's transparent goal to be original and dark and mysterious and indecipherable. In that sense, so self-referential. What Our Ecstatic Days wasn't was interesting or convincing. Why drag out a single uninterpretable sentenc ...more
This is literally one of the most beautiful and amazing books I have ever read. A novel with an experimental form, it reminds me of an EE Cummings poem, using the format of text to shape certain sequences within the novel. There is one scene in particular where a woman who can hear the sad songs of houses rides through a fictional hotel known as the hotel of thirteen losses where the text is shaped in such a way as to make it appear that one is traveling in between rooms in a hotel. The rooms th ...more
Cool premise--the inexplicable large-scale disaster is always a good postmodern trope, and Lake Zed more than fulfills its promise, springing from a hole in the ground to eventually consume all of Los Angeles and generally mess up everyone's lives. Erickson ably evokes the geography of the region, and imagines the post-Zed world vividly enough to draw you in (little sci-fi touches like the reassignment of building addresses in relation to the lake's center, the memory-drug Lapsinthe, the vague r ...more
It helps to read some of his other books before this one, but if you surrender to it, I'm sure it's perfectly powerful on its own. He's played around with the idea of parallel selves and alternate realities in the past, and he really delves into it here, but not in a sci-fi/fantasy way. I always thought the alternate or "shadow" world that exists in his fiction was some sort of dream-reality created by the dark imagination of the century, or something like that, and maybe that still works, but t ...more
Jim Leckband
Is the point of a merry-go-round to grasp the brass ring? Do you focus on the ring as the calliope music swirls around you, ignoring the harmonic motion of up and down and round and round? Or is the point to dance with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the circus signs?

If you are are a brass ring grasper, then this book is not for you. In your reading if you can handle being buffeted back and forth, and never really being on Terra Firma (like being in a silver gondola on a huge lake in the mi
J.M. Hushour
When asked periodically about good American authors, I always cite the abominably overlooked Steve Erickson. Erickson is a twisted, imaginative writer who fits into a Pynchony-Wallacey kind of nexus. That's why I was so surprised that this book was so terrible. In fact, in a highly unusual move, I actually had to stop reading it because I was so embarrassed by its badness. If you've read other, earlier Erickson books, you will be familiar with the plot: (fill in an apocalyptic environmental even ...more
Kristen Shaw
The ending - that is , the point at which the long sentence running throughout merges with the "main" text - is absolutely gorgeous. Although I enjoyed this, I think the metaphors should have been reined in a little bit; I can only deal with so much magic realism centered around creepy lakes as birth canals, red and blue juxtaposed to represent either gender, emotional states or menstrual flows, etc. I love all of those things, but I find it slightly irritating when male writers especially over- ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Ben rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
Alternately brilliant and frustrating. Erickson does some amazing stuff in this novel, both narratively and textually, including a stunning 230 page-long single-line sentence that completes and mirrors the text that surrounds it. But on the other hand, his writing is occasionally completely over the top and self-indulgent and he really needs to get a better rein on his metaphors (or needed to, anyway--Zeroville doesn't have this problem). I really loved the way he's able to abruptly shift viewpo ...more
A girl in my book club loaned this to me, because it's her favorite SF novel. I tried to read it, I really did. The first time I got about two pages in and gave up in disgust. I tried again a month later, and got 118 pages in before I just couldn't go on.

The first 48 pages are in italics, which....why? I'm sure it's literary or some crap, but I need my books to be *interesting*, and the only character I was mildly interested in vanished. As far as I got it was mental wankery about having kids/m
Danger Kallisti
Feb 12, 2008 Danger Kallisti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Angelinos, postmodernists, people who read -Sea Came in at Midnight-
Recommended to Danger by: Aaron
It's hard to say anything new about a sequel that wouldn't just be comparing it to the book it followed. As such, I'll say that I don't think it functions well as a standalone, despite Erickson's attempts to rehash the previous novel. This problem lies in the fact that much of the necessary background data is in the form of emotional connotation and not in storyline. Still, this book was also beautiful, and it was exactly what I needed at the time when I read it. To believe that I could die anyw ...more
Erickson with this work as become master of the surreal. All of his works have been working, building towards this moment and, in effect, make an appearance in some fashion within the narrative. As surrealist as the novel is, it is also an experimental work, on that is not always successful, not in terms of its power or necessity but its sustainability. In the hands of lesser artist, this would have been a complete mess. Erickson's ability and confidence in both his words, characters and narrati ...more
Truly heartbreaking in a way I didn't expect. Emotions running rampant through the novel, the narrative adds to the reader's consuming confusion, hopelessness, and general sinking feeling. Whatever pleasure I previously gleaned from imagining Los Angeles ablaze was extinguished when the gas station on Crescent Heights disappeared beneath the murky water. It knocked the wind out of me.
A woman rows to the center of a mysterious lake which envelopes Los Angeles and leaves her child behind in a gondola. Or does she? Is she a woman? What woman is she? Does she also have a daughter? Is her son God? Is the father of her son a hero? Does this book have a point? No. No it does not. Save yourself from this pointless, maddening (but compelling enough to finish) book.
Lauren Munoz
Mesmerizing and strange. It reminded me of a David Lynch movie - spiraling realities, dreamlike cadence, and stories with flexible interpretations. There was a chunk of pages towards the end that floundered, but mostly it's tightly and beautifully written. If you like literature that experiments a bit, both in narrative and structure, I'd definitely recommend this book.
Flat out beautiful. This is a deep examination into grief without the intention of just being depressing. An insightful look at feeling lost to the world.

Surreal and magical. Despite being overly indulgent it never drags and keep a quick lilt pulling the reader farther into this "world".

If you are into dreamy postmodern fiction, this is as good as it gets.
Left me dizzy, giddy, elated, depressed. Erickson can pack and turn a phrase like no other, make you see, hear, feel creeped out. I couldn't put it down, but, be warned: not for people who insist their novels should bear a resemblance to the world they know. Realism isn't Erickson's point. Oh, this picks up sometime after The Sea Came in at Midnight left off
I was blown away by Zeroville and Days Between Stations. This one is kind of losing me in the middle when it gets to the part about the mistress and the guy from China, but I am only half way through. Maybe he'll win me back? As always the writing itself both rocks my world and blows my mind and also makes me a little jealous.
Not as good as The Sea Came In At Midnight, secretly i think Steve Erikson is a woman, it makes me think of a quote from "as good as it gets" when Jack Nicholson is asked how he writes women so well he answers "First I think of a man... then I take away reason, and accountability." not so much with Erikson.

The experimental form didn't bother me, and I liked a lot of elements of the book, like a boy being raised by owls or a mysterious lake turning L.A. into an archipelago of islands and dying buildings, but I guess I don't have a high tolerance for dominatrices and menstrual blood.
The beautifully lyrical speculative fiction of Steve Erickson I think receives its apotheosis in Our Ecstatic Days. A lake springs up in Hollywood and spreads to engulf the center of the city. Fire and water. What Lynch does in film, Erickson does in fiction.
laR HodgePodzaline
I really appreciated its surreal world, so like our own and yet so liberated from the strictures of our reality. Another apocalyptic tale to set alongside The Road and A Friend of the Earth, but not at all like either one...strangely more hopeful than either.
Experimental and not one of my favorites. I knew from reading this book that something had changed and maybe Erickson had had a child, (he had), I knew it from the very start because he was suddenly writing like someone who loved as a parent does.
This is probably my fourth or fifth of Erickson's that I've read and the only one that didn't grab me. For some reason I couldn't stick with it. I LOVE Erickson though so I don't even blame him. Maybe it was me.
The only thing I've read that weaves the cultural American trauma of life before and after 2001 in such a way as to create a new way/world/life.
senator jensen
I read it as a new parent and it broke my heart and put it back together again (much like parenthood). A surrealistic flow that's lovely...
Brigitte Durnwald
Well this one certainly messed with my mental state and ability to function this weekend. 4 stars!!
creative engagement with it here:
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Stuttered as a child, a motif which often appears in his writing.

Began writing stories at age seven. Began publishing as a teen. Wrote first novel at seventeen.

Studied film and journalism at UCLA.

Received Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.

More about Steve Erickson...
Zeroville The Sea Came in at Midnight Days Between Stations Tours of the Black Clock These Dreams of You

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