Sea Came In At Midnight Paperback – Apr 24 2000
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God invented millennia for writers like Steve Erickson. Erickson's previous books have buried L.A.'s freeways in sand, set bonfires in Paris streets, and hitched along for the 1996 presidential campaign. In terms of madness, doom, and sheer human folly, what could possibly be left? Plenty, as it turns out. As The Sea Came in at Midnight opens, 17-year-old Kristin works in a Japanese "memory hotel," where despite her so-so looks she's in high demand. As an American, "Kristin represents the Western annihilation of ancient Japanese memory and therefore its master and possessor, a red bomb in one hand, a red bottle of soda pop in the other." After one of her best clients expires in the booth, she finally tells him her own story--which turns out to be quite a tale, involving escape from a millennial suicide cult and nude solitary confinement at the behest of a man known only as the Occupant. Add in the novel's other threads, which span 40 years and include a dream cartographer, a chaos-based calendar, time capsules, and both real and faked snuff films, and you have a heady mixture indeed. Fans of Erickson's unsettling, dreamlike style are legion, and they won't be disappointed in his latest take on the End Time, Blade Runner-style. But in a way, the millennium is beside the point; with a plot like this one, a mere flipping of digits seems so much apocalyptic icing on the cake. Combing a lyrical surrealism with a jittery, jump-cut technique, Erickson writes like the 21st-century heir of Pynchon and DeLillo. --Chloe Byrne --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Strip clubs, sexual slavery, Paris dreams, New York horror and California misery catastrophically define and entrap the troubled margin-dwellers inhabiting this penetrating dream vision of the post-nuclear world. At the center is Kristin, who escapes her fate as the last of 2000 women and children sacrificed in a millennialist cult ritual only to become the sex slave of a self-proclaimed "apocalyptologist" she knows only as the Occupant. The Occupant is obsessed with mapping out the world's increasingly bizarre eruptions of violenceAmany of which have shaped and twisted his own lifeAon an unconventional calendar that soon has Kristin at its epicenter. Another agitated, tormented character is Louise Blumenthal, aka Lulu Blu, the screenwriter of the world's first snuff film, a hoax that subsequently spawned actual murders. Louise seeks to absolve herself of her crimes by trying to save future snuff actresses and ritualistically vandalizing satellite dishes in L.A. Erickson (Days Between Stations; Amnesiascope) sends his agile prose careening ever deeper into these intertwined lives, their disturbing memories and often tragic choices following a kind of grim logic. This provocative novel is often funny but always serious and lush with insights that make its often outlandish elements eerily familiar. The razor-sharp narrative balances a nonchalant chaos with an unrelenting stream of violence and tenderness; even the most monstrous psyche in Erickson's ensemble of stoic na?fs, murderous sadists and the sexually plundered is brilliantly rendered as not only sympathetic, but honest, vigorous and enduring.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
For me, the most enjoyable aspect of this novel was the elliptical paths the characters took. The way they crossed and re-crossed paths, never knowing the significance of the other in the way their lives have been shaped. Erickson manages this without forcing the relationships or situations in an artificial way.
The story itself, though, is artificial and contrived - but I mean that in a positive way! Erickson's settings, the novels events and the characters motivations are grandiose and on an epic scale. He wants you to be confronted by his themes - the decay of society, the power of redemption and self-belief - so they are enlarged and made more bold by their scale. 'The Sea Came in at Midnight' is a novel that trades in challenging the reader and the reader's perceptions. You will never forget the desperation of some characters and the despair of others. Never forget the hyper-realistic imagery - Tokyo memory hotels, the mass suicide, the shattered aquarium. And finally, never forget that you have been privileged to read a novel of truly stunning accomplishment.
Well, I devoured *Amnesiascope* and *Arc D'X* and *Rubicon Beach*, but despite the appearance of the same tropes (like J.G. Ballard, Erickson obsessively redeploys the same imagery, in his case fractured time, deserted Chinatowns, flooded cities) they didn't bring me off quite the way *Tours* did.
Now *Sea* does, again. It's a haunting and beautiful meditation on time, loss, evil, and redemption - call it a scruffier alternate take on DeLillo's *Underworld*, for post-boomers. It's uneven in spots, but it did the work that all great writing is supposed to do: it triggered the simultaneous grief, acceptance, and joy in that acceptance that means you've arrived, at long last, at your own life. You should buy this book.
Oh, and: thanks, Steve.
The thematic and stylistic elements of which this novel is composed are the stuff of undeniable brilliance. The innovative structure of the novel is also an asset through most of the novel but by the time we near the end it has become one of the most problematic elements. In this novel Erickson tells several stories at once, weaving each into the others with intricacy and skill. Among the many plots that emerge are a teenage girl's attempt to dream, a madman's attempt to document the world's slide into apocalypse and another teenage girl's brush with death on film. Each plot thread makes for engrossing reading and as I read I was constantly surprised by how Erickson managed to tie one plot thread to the others.
The problem is that by the time the end of the novel approaches, which is far too fast, none of the plot lines actually terminate, they just trail out into space. It is possible that Erickson tried to do too much in too small a space - just over 250 pages. This novel might have been better if it had been a hundred or so pages longer and Erickson had been able to bring everything together and create some sort of closure.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I did not like this novel at all. It was very difficult to follow. It jumped all over and was not easy to read . Don't bother to purchase or read this one.Published 23 months ago by Pat Sykes
A sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing "memior of the future", this novel contains plot twists that in themselves are nothing short of amazing. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2003 by Jason D. Wick
The three nights I spent reading Erickson's "The Sea Came at Midnight" were both riveting and disturbing. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2001 by Michael Clark