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Luminarium

Shakar, Alex

729 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1569479755 / ISBN 13: 9781569479759
Published by Soho Press, New York, 2011
Condition: As New Hardcover
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About this Item

Book and BroDart protected jacket are without faults. Gift quality. Signed by the author at the Los Angeles Times Book Fair in 2012. Signed in silver pen below his name on the title page. Book won the L.A. Times Award for Best Fiction. First edition / first printing. Ships in bubble warp in box. Bookseller Inventory # PC 24-2

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Luminarium

Publisher: Soho Press, New York

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. A Washington Post notable book of the year, a New York Times editor's choice, named a best book of the year by Publishers WeeklyBooklist, the Austin Chronicle, and the Kansas City Star.

Fred Brounian and his twin brother, George, were once co-CEOs of a burgeoning New York City software company devoted to the creation of utopian virtual worlds. Now, in the summer of 2006, as two wars rage and the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, George has fallen into a coma, control of the company has been wrenched away by a military contracting conglomerate, and Fred has moved back in with his parents. Broke and alone, he’s led by an attractive woman, Mira, into a neurological study promising to give him "peak" experiences and a newfound spiritual outlook on life. As the study progresses, lines between the subject and the experimenter blur, and reality becomes increasingly porous. Meanwhile, Fred finds himself caught up in what seems at first a cruel prank: a series of bizarre emails and texts that purport to be from his comatose brother.

Moving between the research hospitals of Manhattan, the streets of a meticulously planned Florida city, the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and the uncanny, immersive worlds of urban disaster simulation;  threading through military listserv geek-speak, Hindu cosmology, the maxims of outmoded self-help books and the latest neuroscientific breakthroughs, Luminarium is a brilliant examination of the way we live now, a novel that’s as much about the role technology and spirituality play in shaping our reality as it is about the undying bond between brothers, and the redemptive possibilities of love.

"Luminarium is dizzyingly smart and provocative, exploring as it does the state of the present, of technology, of what is real and what is ephemeral. But the thing that separates Luminarium from other books that discuss avatars, virtual reality and the like is that Alex Shakar is committed throughout with trying, relentlessly, to flat-out explain the meaning of life. This book is funny, and soulful, and very sad, but so intellectually invigorating that you'll want to read it twice." — Dave Eggers

"This fascinating, hilarious novel, though set in the past, is the story of the future: technology has outlapped us, reality is blinking on and off like a bad wireless connection,  the ones we love are nearby in one sense, but far away in another. Yet at the book’s galloping heart, it’s the story of what one man is willing to go through to find—in our crowded, second-rate space—something like faith. This novel is sharp, original, and full of energy—obviously the work of a brilliant mind.” — Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War

Review:

A Letter from Author Alex Shakar

People have been asking me if my new novel, Luminarium, is a 9/11 novel, a post-9/11 novel, or perhaps a post-post-9/11 novel.

The story begins in New York in the summer of 2006, closing in on the fifth anniversary, which for me marks the beginning of the end of the post-9/11 period. The hero, Fred Brounian, is on the verge of losing everything. After 9/11, financial backing for his virtual world software company dried up, propelling him into a bad business agreement with a military contracting conglomerate. Now, his company has been swindled away from him. His fiancé has left him. He’s lost his swank high-rise apartment and has had to move in with his parents. His twin brother—his best friend and business partner—lies dying in a cancer-induced coma. And he’s being harassed by prank emails claiming to be from said comatose twin. These events, and loneliness and desperation, propel him into a neuroscientific study in which “peak” spiritual experiences are induced artificially by means of an electromagnetic helmet.

During the writing of Luminarium, I felt I was following the story’s needs and joys rather than imposing any will of my own; in retrospect, however, I can see that Fred’s story was in certain ways my own. While I wasn’t by any stretch a 9/11 “victim,” I too had been impacted by the event in certain ways. I think my experience, to a greater or lesser extent, accorded with that of a great many others, not only in New York but around the world, everywhere that anyone was feeling the repercussions of the changed world. I observed, at times with shell-shocked detachment, at other times with disgust, how everyone was scrambling to reposition themselves, to get out in front of the new order, to adapt, simply said, to cash in, with American flags or military entertainment software or 9/11 novels or whatever. I saw this in everyone from artists to pundits to businesspeople, this blind march to a tune beyond anyone’s control. I saw it in myself. Inevitably, my disgust became Fred’s own.

My questions became: How do we deal with a changed world, with a universe that one day seemed with us and the next seems to turn against us and oppose us at every turn? And to what extent are our beliefs—our inner narratives of victimhood, of divine contracts, of ideological rightness—themselves to blame for the sicknesses of the world? To what extent are our very selves our own?

The search for the answers to such questions ultimately becomes a spiritual one. For Fred, an experimental god helmet is the all-purpose tool for taking apart his experiences and building his existence anew. For me, there have been a few such tools, but the main one of the last few years has been Luminarium itself.

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