tim's Reviews > These Dreams of You

These Dreams of You by Steve Erickson
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Apr 05, 12

Recommended for: agnostic patriots
Read in April, 2012

It’s a rhythm and blues from the future that’s spiraled round the sphere of time to come back up through its birth canal.

Before I could react, a hood thrown over my head, my person shoved from behind into a waiting ghost van peeling a smokescreen so thick no two witnesses report seeing the same thing. Coming to, dazed on the cusp of a deep canyon near an abandoned bridge spanning a thin blue thread nestled below, the only thought I can muster to wonder aloud: all this from reading a book?

Standing unsteadily, searching in darkness for what scattered shards haven’t already blown over the edge in the building crosswinds, I go through the motions, fusing starlight with collected remnants into a memory trigger of remote origins.

Faintly at first, volume rising, I recall thunderclaps detonating, unfolding overhead, if not within. Fractal echoes swirling with reverse intensity, fading not through diminishing ricochet. In their deafening wake, silence rushes in, flooding the void. Buried deep in the center, barely discernible, a song pleads to be heard. A secret song embedded with mystery.

Music broadcasts from the room at the beginning of time, in the chambers of our radio-heart. Harmonics resonate, folding in upon themselves, overlapping past and future events in the spiraling apex of now; the song bleeding through all, bleeding history dry.

Never lose the transmission, the song from before birth. If lost, it can splinter into numberless facsimiles drowning everything in noise. The song from before history strives to remain in our ears. It is the song of our future transcending our past; the song of time shedding itself.
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Thank you, Shan. After a long spell it's nice to read a book that invokes the desire to scratch that review itch again.


message 2: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Sorry. I'm a comment fumbler.


message 3: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim The only other Erickson I've read is The Sea Came in at Midnight. I liked it, but not as much as I wanted to. I'm beginning to think now it was just bad timing on my part. A reread might be in order. But this book, this one just did it for me. It's a very timely book too. A courageous and important work of art, no mere escapist entertainment here. I've already tracked down a couple others by him and plan to read them soon.


message 4: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I liked this a whole lot.


message 5: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I didn't like the one Erickson I've tried but also plan to try The Sea Came in at Midnight.


message 6: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Mariel wrote: "I liked this a whole lot."

Thanks, Mariel. I like you saying so a whole lot.


message 7: by Szplug (new)

Szplug Yep, Tim, à la Mariel, you've got that prose poetic review style that's such a pleasure to imbibe.

I love Erickson, and I bought this book the day it was released; sadly, the visceral let-down that was Amnesiascope derailed me from my then-firm plan to read this and Zeroville and complete my Erickson collection. Now I'm back to wavering between this, Joy Williams (thanks, Mariel!), Juli Zeh, and Ryan Boudinot. Struggling to make a decision, I'm but a few shakily flipped coins from heading, yet again, into the fetal position in the deep and dark corners of the bedroom closet.


message 8: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I'm thinking about the Boudinot myself, and Erickson. Bless goodreads!

I hope you'll read the Williams, if not now, sometime. I would love to read your thoughts on her.


message 9: by Szplug (last edited Apr 06, 2012 11:54AM) (new)

Szplug With Williams, I plan on beginning at the beginning with State of Grace—but the fact that you three-starred it, and your review notwithstanding, leaves me just a touch hesitant. I also own Breaking and Entering and The Quick and the Dead—I've no problem with buying several books by an author I've never read if the books themselves look interesting enough—but whenever possible, my general method with an unexplored author is to tackle the first book right at the outset.

I always intend to slot Boudinot in next, but then something inevitably arises to turn my gaze, even unto the very last moment, towards something else...


message 10: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Chris wrote: "Yep, Tim, à la Mariel, you've got that prose poetic review style that's such a pleasure to imbibe.

I love Erickson, and I bought this book the day it was released; sadly, the visceral let-down tha..."


Many many humble thanks, Chris. It is always nice to hear from you.

It did feel like I had somehow channeled a thread from Mariel's rope while composing this. A rather good influence I must say. To you both, it is one of life's not-so-small pleasures to receive kudos from goodreaders I hold in such high regard.

All too often I too find myself reduced to flipping coins in order to bring about a decision I'm otherwise incapable of making. Wondering afterward: How can something so seemingly simple as selecting a book be such an arduous task? And yet it is. Maybe we ought to convert to the Church of I Ching.

With regard to Boudinot, I can vouch that Blueprints of the Afterlife is an immensely satisfying joyride. Speaking of, I again have Mariel to thank for placing Joy Williams on my to-read radar.

As for Erickson, I just picked up Zeroville and Our Ecstatic Days, which I look forward to reading with anxious glee, in no small part to your Erickson reviews, Chris. Although I will probably allow a reasonable amount of time between Erickson reads so as not to taint the afterglow from TDoY, which has been strong enough to keep me purring for a long while.


message 11: by Mariel (new)

Mariel State of Grace sparked some heavy fires in me (a sick feeling of dread is more like it). It's worth reading, though, and I didn't mean to discourage with my three stars. I would read anything she wrote and there are parts of that book that would make me write cheesy descriptions of touching heavens. I'm trying to hold off on her remaining books so I won't run out so quickly. I read four back to back in a week.... (Ok. You both know I'm a fan. I'm excited that you two will read her!)

My Erickson debut is undecided. (Knowing me it'll probably be all of them.)


message 12: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Blueprints of the Afterlife! Do the Boudinot!


message 13: by Szplug (last edited Apr 06, 2012 10:07PM) (new)

Szplug I'd love to see you contributing more reviews here, Tim, since I've enjoyed everything of yours that I've come across. Also like Mariel, you've a knack for getting at the heart and soul of a story with beautiful imagery which, really, is what I relish the most at this site.

Mariel, as an Erickson point of entry I'd recommend Days Between Stations, his first novel and a great example of what he will conjure forth in his future efforts. Plus, if you start at the beginning, you'll notice the way that themes and characters cross-over and blend between the works. And, even with the three stars, your written review still has left me eager to give Williams a try—it's just coming down to whether it'll be right now or in the immediate future! And Boudinot, sweet Boudinot—where the fuck am I going to slip you in?

Tim, in many ways, I enjoyed Our Ecstatic Days even more than Sea. I'm probably in a minority there, but it just may be his masterpiece. There's a nifty ticker-tape narrative trick he plays that, I believe, subtly worked away at me. Zeroville and this book that left you so satisfied are what I've left of his to read—and I plan to have at them sooner rather than later.

And speaking of which, yes, choosing books is a nightmarish process for me these days, and I've only myself to blame. On my way back from blading this afternoon, I popped into a local thrift with a 30% off card I'd been given; and so now I've FIFTEEN new books added to my already insane collection:

DeLillo's Players and The Names.
Hawke's The Blood Oranges and Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade
Nye's The Life and Death of My Lord Gilles de Rais
Munro's The Moons of Jupiter
Skvorecky's The Bride of Texas and Selected Essays
Lowndes' Chekago
Sophocles' Theban Plays
Berkeley's Philosophical Writings
The Political Writings of Bakunin
Schoenberner's Confessions of a European Intellectual
de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others
Barnes' The Porcupine

So I arrived home absolutely thrilled and excited and skipping merrily along the hallway, right up until I began sorting the suckers amidst the thousands already shelved and stacked, and it dawned upon me that I had yet to choose my next reading material. At which point my legs turned to jello, the bags under my eyes drooped like pocketed billiard balls, and the blood drained out of my face sufficient to leave me indistinguishable from the bathroom toilet down which I was soon trying to flush my idiotic, bibliomaniac head.

Ah, the suffering when you can't stop collecting books and can only apportion to them so much time!


message 14: by Mariel (new)

Mariel There's nothing about that last paragraph I didn't relate to.


message 15: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim That's crazy, I picked up The Names the same day I bought These Dreams of You. The DeLillo titles aside, I admit knowing nothing of the others, but look forward to benefitting from what you gather through your exacting lens.

Considering your advise on Erickson, I think I will forego the two I just collected and move next to Days Between Stations. I've already gleaned a couple overlapping themes. While flipping through Our Ecstatic Days, I noticed a possible recurring character (Viv?) in TDoY. I don't want to miss any more connections.

Although I'm aware I've an overly cautious disposition, and likewise I imagine you are a professional, mastered the art of living on the edge and all, but I do hope you've considered the inherent risks involved in blading through a bustling metropolis while carrying fifteen recently acquired books. Then again, I can think of worse ways to exit stage left.


message 16: by Szplug (last edited Apr 09, 2012 12:39PM) (new)

Szplug I normally don't purchase quite so many books at one time, but, as I said, I had the discount card and it appeared that someone had donated a huge pile of books to the thrift just prior to my arrival. I could have doubled or trebled the amount if I hadn't given myself a limit beforehand.

Days makes for a logical and enjoyable selection for your next read; and I'd also champion giving Rubicon Beach and Arc D'X their slot in the rotation, for the former works in some of his most surreal writing tropes, while the latter dips the furthest back into the streams of history and memory from which his apocalyptic vision of America arises.

I appreciate the caution, but I'm not fearless enough to travel to my building via rollerblades, what with the general tenor of drivers in my neighborhood being that of controlled insanity. I bladed down by the river, basking in sun and open space and the joys of cruising along with a part of me lost in thought and another in inchoate but joyous harmony with the living, breathing earth and its atmospheric exhalations that are my preferred high these days—but for transporting a stack of new books, I avail myself of my car and its sturdier defense against the vehicular unpredictability of my fellow 'Nucks!


message 17: by Ali (last edited May 18, 2012 11:27PM) (new)

Ali Reviews like this make me want to get better at reviewing.
I also want to read the book now, even though I have no idea what it's about (though I'm about to find out as its Goodreads page is loaded in another window of my web browser), which may be the best complement I can give to any review.

Edit: I have several books by Erickson, and none are titled These Dreams of You. Just my luck. That doesn't mean anything, of course, since I'll likely find it later, or get it from a library or bookshop and scan it, but I've a semi-obsessive need to get as close to owning the complete works of authors I find interesting as possible. Erickson will be swiftly added to the ever-growing list of authors for whom to look out. That list is always growing, even when it's not growing, but that you've heaped such praise on it, combined with the length of this comment, means I'll remember to pay more attention to his name during my next downloading binge, which starts tomorrow, I believe.


message 18: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Thank you, Ali. Consider me humbly flattered. That my review piques your interest in reading this book/author is definitely the best compliment possible. And yet, that my review somehow inspires you to improve upon your already very impressive reviewing skills means even more. I've been enjoying your book reviews ever since first coming across them and have looked forward to every new one ever since. Maybe now someday to include an Erickson book or two?


message 19: by Ali (new)

Ali Oh, definitely. if I'm to judge strictly by this and a few other reviews, I have a feeling Erickson's writing is going to make enough of an impression on me to want to review it. I have a backlog of books I need to write (or finish) reviews for, but for the most part, books don't scratch the reviewing itch in me, so they are filed away in the back of my mind until I can be bothered writing something, but I don't think he'll be like that.

I'm glad you enjoy my reviews, though I'm not entirely sure why. Not because I don't think them enjoyable or because I'm hunting for complements, but because I have never gotten any feedback at all explaining why my reviews are enjoyable. I suppose a vote is a good enough indicator that my reviews are good, but it could also mean that they're so bad that people want to share the hilarity with all their friends. I know that's not the case, at least, I hope it's not, but the point is that a vote doesn't say much unless it's proceeded by a comment, and I never get comments which will give me guidance on what people like about my reviews so I can improve them. SO I'll jhust keep doing what I'm doing now and watch the votes trickle in...


message 20: by Emilie (new)

Emilie i like this a lot, too. it makes me think of one of my favorite songs, and also it makes me think of a poem i read that i've been trying to find for years (though sometimes i wonder if i read the poem in a dream), a poem that speaks about this singing of the secret song that reminds us of who we really are to one who lost the song and so was lost.


message 21: by tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

tim Thank you, Emilie. Which song does it make you think of? Your description of that poem could almost be a summary of this book. I hope you locate it one day, or at least never stop looking for it, wherever it exists.


message 22: by Emilie (new)

Emilie the song it makes me think of is transmission by joy division. i think it's partly some of your word choices and partly the way that song feels to me like it starts quietly with a song buried in the centre of the song, like protected by the bass, which has a pleading feel to it, like listen, listen... and this tension between silence and song...thanks, i'll never stop looking for it. (sorry, i've had a migraine, too light sensitive yesterday.)


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