A Fable of Fathers and Sons Novel Blends Fantastical Elements to Describe a Common Quest

By Reviewed J. Stephen Bolhafner | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 3, 1993 | Go to article overview

A Fable of Fathers and Sons Novel Blends Fantastical Elements to Describe a Common Quest


Reviewed J. Stephen Bolhafner, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


GLIMPSES By Lewis Shiner 331 pages, William Morrow, $21

ALTHOUGH Lewis Shiner is known primarily as a science fiction writer, his best works don't really fit that category. "Deserted Cities of the Heart," for instance, was much like the work of the Latin American magic realists. His latest book, "Glimpses," has more in common with W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" than with Isaac Asimov or William Gibson.

The story starts in 1988 and ends in 1989, and the extraordinary events that happen are never given an explanation, either mystical or sci entific. One day Ray Shackleford, musing about a Beatles album that was never made, imagines the scene in the recording studio so completely that music starts coming out of the speakers in his stereo repair shop, music that never existed - the version of "The Long and Winding Road" that the Beatles should have recorded, instead of the remix by George Martin that appears on the album "Let It Be."

The next day, as an experiment, Ray tries to imagine the music again, this time with a tape recorder running. And captures the impossible music on tape.

If this book was simply about Ray's attempt to recreate the Beatles' "Get Back," The Doors' "Celebration of the Lizard," Brian Wilson's "Smile," and the album Jimi Hendrix would have made if he hadn't died of adrug overdose, it would be interesting, perhaps even fascinating. The reason it reminds me of "Shoeless Joe" is that the fantastical elements are brought into the service of a man's struggle to redefine his relationship with his dead father.

These strange things start happening to Ray only two weeks after his father's death. Before the book is over, he will have traveled back in time to speak with Brian Wilson in 1966, and traveled to Cozumel, Mexico to speak with the shade of his father in a fire on a beach under the tutelage of a shaman.

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A Fable of Fathers and Sons Novel Blends Fantastical Elements to Describe a Common Quest
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