Erickson's funniest and most intensely confessional novel edges Los Angeles up against the next millennium and into a vortex of fire. The city is a surreal landscape overrun by abducted strippers, nomadic artists, reluctant pornographers, subversive newspaper columnists, alienated movie critics, teenage hookers afraid of the rain, and legendary filmmakers who may or may not exist. Steve Erickson is the author of ten novels and two works of nonfiction.
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The resident surrealist of L.A. (Arch D`X, 1993, etc.) uncorks a magnum of post-apocalyptic champagne: a long New Year's Eve of the Soul (sex, drugs, paranoia) that turns into a rather flat confessional about the life of a writer who bears more than a passing resemblance to the author himself. In previous novels, Erickson took a flier on a certain kind of sexy, psychedelic, futuristic surrealism, and this one starts no differently--in a Los Angeles post-Quake, post-Riot, post-New Paragons (a Gingrichian politician movement). For the first quarter of the book, we follow the narrator as he makes a hedonistic playground in the ruins of the city, which is ringed by nightly backfires--the ultimate Angeleno driving challenge. While out picking up strippers and gorgeous creatures of the night with sculptor-girlfriend Viv, he riffs incessantly in a Chandleresque voice. But, as the title hints, this is a story about memory, chiefly the narrator's recountings of countless couplings, sexual predations, and one lost love, Sally. At times this James Cain-like sexual heat is enough to drive a reader onward, and the author's intention to paint a portrait of L.A. through its women, ... la Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, is certainly a goal worth shooting for. But an abundance of tired subplots--will the editor of the narrator's hip newspaper be fired? what is the mystery about the impossibly lovely Jasper's father? will the little hooker ever move out of the narrator's apartment?--come off as sketches, their deadly flatness reeking of autobiography: ``Last time I caught a glimpse of my career as a novelist, before it disappeared altogether in the dark.'' Erickson is the Martha Stewart of decadence: When he's on, nobody does it better. But in this sortie, despite a number of classic riffs, he seems to be running short of material. Or perhaps it's just the competition provided by an increasingly surreal America. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A postmodern flaneur in a spectral, futuristic L.A., the narrator of Erickson's foggy, metafictional fifth novel is a former novelist known only as "S." Self-absorbed, verging on paranoid schizophrenia, S delivers a sustained, often hypertheoretical monologue on the nature of cities and memory, on the compulsion to write and have sex and on particular movies and people who may or not be figments of his imagination. S's L.A. is a surreal city of ruins, divided into dozens of time zones and lit in concentric rings by official "backfires" meant to separate it from the "new America" to the east. S lives in a dilapidated art-deco hotel and works for a newspaper that operates in the bombed-out Egyptian Theater, but spends much of his time with his girlfriend, Viv ("my little carnal ferret"), trolling the bohemian demimonde-a fanciful realm of voluptuous prostitutes, tortured artists, drug addicts, strip joints and bookstores. What S ultimately seeks is love and redemption; yet he's trapped in a kind of psychological Mobius strip, as the city itself, the fires that consume it and the people who walk its streets appear to be nothing more than projections of his own musings on entropy and lost identity. Haunted by imagery from Erickson's previous novels (Arc D'X, etc.), this book's ravaged apocalyptic lyricism is finely tuned. Yet the futuristic scenario remains sketchy, and the plot, more a solipsistic slice of life than a full-blooded story, doesn't sustain enough urgency or novelty to make up for its lack of closure. Rights (except electronic): Melanie Jackson.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Quartet Books, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0704380536