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These Dreams of You

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  493 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
One November night in a canyon outside L.A., Zan Nordhoc-a failed novelist turned pirate radio DJ-sits before the television with his small, adopted black daughter, watching the election of his country's first black president. In the nova of this historic moment, with an economic recession threatening their home, Zan, his wife and their son set out to solve the enigma of t ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published 2012 by Europa Editions
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Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: agnostic patriots
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?

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
What do Bobby Kennedy, David Bowie, James Joyce's Molly Bloom, President Obama, and MatthewMarkLuke&John have in common? Outside of this book, probably not much.
If you had an acid-head friend with attention deficit who was also a gifted raconteur, his stories might come to you in this sort of fever-dream fashion. A little time travel, a few riffs and rants on politics, plagiarism, coincidence, race, religion, literature. A little incoherent rambling. And every once in awhile a shining jewel
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I’ve long been a fan of Steve Erickson’s film criticism and my first foray into his novels did not disappoint. I loved Zeroville, which I read a couple of months ago, which didn’t really surprise me, although the intensity of the whole experience was more than I’d hoped for. But this. This! These Dreams of You pushed so many of my particular buttons all at once, it’s wonder I didn’t have a stroke. Part of the appeal was personal, but the quality of the work more objectively (if there is such a ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
post-read: Ooh boy, Steve Erickson is so superb. This was really different than I expected (read: really different from Zeroville ); it was hyper-realistic, not at all stylized, with really normal, messy characters grappling with kind of huge issues—race, adoption, debt, historical precedent, what it means to be American, stuff like that. But then it was also somehow in pieces and a little bit twistily meta—our main character is also a writer, who is kind of writing a story that has things that ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
NOTE: Reading back over this review five years later in 2017, this book has taken on the feel of an elegy, with Shadowbahn, perhaps unwittingly the first major novel of the Trump era, its apocalyptic successor. Just read the excerpt I pulled out toward the end of the review; it makes my heart hurt.

This review was first published by The New York Journal of Books in 2012. I reproduce it here. I also named it my favorite book of that year, with additional thoughts here.

“Here are we, one magic
Corey Pung
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Roughly 70 pages into the novel These Dreams of You by Steve Erickson I was ready to boldly proclaim it the best book of 2012. It had much of what I so frequently look for in a novel–believable characters, social commentary, a suspenseful plot, and touches of avant-gard aesthetics that don’t bog down the whole. By the end of the book, I wasn’t so sure it was still the best of the year–due in part to occasional middling portions, but also due to the upcoming releases by Martin Amis, Michael Chabo ...more
Mar 16, 2012 added it
Shelves: fictive, speculative
Steve Erickson is the reason I wanted to go to Kansas. He's the only reason I'd like to visit L.A. He's part of the reason I want to visit Berlin, and now he has made me want to go to Addis Ababa. But only if those places are the alternate versions that appear in his novels (yes, with violent muggings and all).

For me, there's the canon of Erickson that is pre-me-knowing-it-existed, and then there's the post-me-knowing-he-existed publications. I feel like the latter are more grounded in real wor
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
frustrating! the writing is often gorgeous, the plot is swirling and complex, and the book... largely annoying. on paper everything seems like it should be right down my alley, enough so that i keep returning despite continuing frustration. here are the problems i've had with erickson here and before - he builds small novels out of big stories, where everything winds together too close, too narrow; he draws in history and historical characters but the never feel more than a little bit human; his ...more
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A typical family novel These Dreams of You is Not. It's more like a turbocharged, falling apart, break down, can-the-family-get-back-together-again kind of story. Or looking at it from another angle: can America get back together again?

My favorite quote:

"This is the occupational hazard of being of my country, the way one's identity becomes bound up with a landscape that manifests in its soil and psychitecture an idea, with a people still fighting over who they are because when nothing else is he
Michael Seidlinger
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
However way you look at it, this is an excellent novel. It's biggest issue lies in the fact that it's not what I expected from Erickson.

It's Erickson on meandering cruise-control.
The ingredients are high-quality and parts of the book resemble the genius that is Steve Erickson but in the end it's one of his lesser novels. It's no Zeroville, Sea Came in at Midnight, or Days Between Stations.

I believe this is best framed under the concept of a journal/meditation of the condition of modern day Ame
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: europa-editions
I had just finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog when I saw Steve Erickson’s Zeroville on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. I took a chance on the novel, on the Europa logo alone. It has been a few years, but I remember enjoying Zeroville except for the fact that my knowledge of early cinema and Hollywood stars was slightly less than up to par. With that as background, I approached “These Dreams of You” cautiously, hoping that the author gave me a few more recognizable signposts and that he managed ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A name that is as damaged as it is spellbinding -
Actually really enjoyed this book, even if the book's layout is just ANNOYING
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
[Disclaimer: I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.]

Wow. Just wow. I seriously want to pick up more of Mr. Erickson's works now. Are they all this intriguing? There were times I had to stop, reread a passage, and savor it before continuing. It was some of the best fiction I've read in some time.

The formatting of this novel threw me off at first. There are no defined chapters. It's very stream-of-consciousness. You would think this would make it easier to find a stopping point if you have
Peter van de Pas
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have always been a big fan of Steve Erickson's writing but I find his latest book underwhelming to say the least. As always with Erickson this is an easy read, taking you along at high speed through the pages. But the content of the writing is less rewarding to me than in his previous novels. Where his prose used to be delightfully weird and forceful, in this novel at times it is downright mushy ("and there against the light of the outer hall are two silhouettes that need no light other than t ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 10-star-reads
This novel has ruined all the books I've tried to read following the last word on the last page of These Dreams of You.
It's been two months since I've finished it and I still can't get it out of my mind. I must think about this book, the characters, the themes, the emotions about once a day, which is remarkable. I cannot think of another novel that has gripped me so vehemently in the last decade of reading.
I typically do not read any reviews, plot overviews, or cover praise plastered on or wit
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked Zeroville - so much so that I feel that I was constantly judging These Dreams of You by the the high precedent that Zeroville set for me a Erickson books. This has so much potential, and the narrative style that I so enjoy from Erickson's work, but the end really fell apart for me. So many interesting things were going on right up until the last few sections, and then the end felt just felt flat to me. Really, this should probably be a 3.5, but I feel that even though it wasn't as ...more
Jeff Tucker
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a simple story, written in elegant and elaborate prose. It’s loaded with introspection and analysis. I was struck by the fact that every character in the book was so compelling that an entire book could be written about any one of them. The story moved along at a pace that was perfect for me. As a baby boomer I could identify with every theme, the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, politics of the 60’s and the 2000’s, music and musicians, the housing bubble and recession of the 2000’s, ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pure-brilliance
"Sometimes life calls for a catalytic instant." I needed one, and I got it.

For the first half, I felt like I was having cobwebs wrapped around my brain. Although I was enjoying it and was absorbed by the writing, I didn't think would go past four stars. Then at some point, I started to notice that the cobwebs intersected in strange places, that they weren't just round my brain anymore but everywhere else as well, that they left burning scratches in the places where they came together, and that t
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This guy is amazing. And, so luckily, I feel like we enjoy/care about all the same things. This one is full of exciting political and musical cameos that I couldn't believe meshed as well as they did. It's an ambitious novel and it might not completely live up to its ambition, but that's what makes it so interesting.
Eric Obenauf
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You know how people say things like 'that book or film perfectly captured [insert era]' ? I feel like years from now we'll point to These Dreams of You as an example of how things really were here and now. Presents all the splintery confusion over our national identity in an exceptionally intelligent manner.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Steve Erickson interview (2/2/2012) on KCRW's Bookworm:

Erickson's "Book Notes" music playlist for These Dreams of You:


Scott Wilson
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars, if that were possible. It's definitely great, definitely imperfect, and those things are definitely connected.
James Riley
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Erickson's writing is really engaging and interesting. There are elements here that remind me of Tours of the Black Clock, in particular the jumps in time and the role of major female character, and also of Shadowbahn, with the deep knowledge it exposes of the people he views as the heroes of rock and roll. Once again, there is the spectacle of a woman who is essentially raped and at least somewhat unknowingly impregnated by a famous person, where the woman just rolls with it without complaint o ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I went into this cold -- the deceptively simple intial phase of the narrative is complicated and reflected and echoed in Erickson's signature style, and by the end, I was touched by how exposed and vulnerable the author had left himself. The cold postmodern detachment and stylization of "Amnesiascope," another semi-autobiographical outing, is replaced with an earnest and affecting portrayal of a family being pushed to the limit. The first narrative shift (no spoilers here) was so well d ...more
Tom Leland
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Ever read your first book by an author and have the feeling that it warped your impression of him/her, and you might have felt differently if you'd read one of their more acclaimed works? This is the author of Zeroville, which I have a feeling I would've enjoyed more. This is one of those books where I appreciate the brilliance of it, the profundity of it, the wisdom of it, but did not particular enjoy the experience. It has important things to say about America, racism, family, the sick priorit ...more
Mike Polizzi
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Human, heartrending, mind bending read- Erickson's an oblivion artist- he conjures his work from time's entropic march and plays so effortlessly with structure- making a balloon animal of his life and history- I haven't read another contemporary who has more to say about the first two decades of our century.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Kind of 2 (or 3) stories that met in the middle (well at the end really)
Jun 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
There is nothing to recommend about this book. It was a trial to endure the characters and read it until its whining end.
James Oliver
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After great struggle with indifferent people and long holds, our router has been replaced. Our wi-fi signal is now stronger than one bar and, even better, the replacement is meant to handle a large amount of wireless devices... the very thing that apparently killed its ancient predecessor. I can watch anime again. I can stream music. I can stay connected longer than a minute at a time! I'd cheer, but I'm not into that sort of thing.

My craptastic internet connection played a large role in finishi
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Does anyone read Steve Erickson? 1 7 Apr 08, 2013 05:32AM  
  • Wichita
  • The Awful Possibilities
  • The Sugar Frosted Nutsack
  • Dance with Snakes
  • Walking to Hollywood
  • Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture
  • Lightning Field
  • A Big Enough Lie: A Novel
  • The  Uncomfortable Dead
  • The Savage Girl
  • Notable American Women
  • The Infernal
  • Conversations
  • I Hotel
  • The World as I Found It
  • Assumption
  • The Same River Twice
  • Divorcer
Steve Erickson is the author of ten novels: Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc d'X, Amnesiascope, The Sea Came in at Midnight, Our Ecstatic Days, Zeroville, These Dreams of You and Shadowbahn. He also has written two books about American politics and popular culture, Leap Year and American Nomad. Numerous editions have been published in English, Spanish, French, Ge ...more
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