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The Sea Came in at Midnight [Paperback]

Steve Erickson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 2000
Steve Erickson is a visionary novelist whose time has come. Considered by many the secret heir to Pynchon and DeLillo, he has steadily acquired a passionate following of readers over the course of five previous novels. Now, with The Sea Came at Midnight, Erickson delivers a masterwork of intense feeling, scope and power--an intimate epic of late twentieth-century civilization in free fall, an unforgettable young woman's revelation amid the ruins.

In the final seconds of the old millennium, 1,999 women and children march off the edge of a cliff in Northern California, urged on by a cult of silent men in white robes. Kristin was meant to be the two-thousandth to fall. But when at the last moment she flees, she exchanges one dark destiny for a future that will unravel the present.

Answering a cryptic personals ad for a woman "at the end of her rope," Kristin finds temporary haven in the Hollywood Hills with an older, unnamed man as obsessed as he is spiritually ravaged. In a locked room at the bottom of his house, he labors over his life's work: a massive blue calendar the size of a tsunami that measures modern time by the events of chaos and pinpoints the true beginning of the new millenium as not midnight December 31, 1999, but the early hours of one May morning in 1968. This calendar is shot through with the threads of other lives-those searching for a small measure of redemption and an answer to the question, "What's missing from the world?"

From a ritual sacrifice in the name of salvation to a ritual sacrifice in the name of pleasure, from an ancient haunted Celtic tower in Brittany to the revolving memory hotels of Tokyo, from a cinematic hoax in Manhattan that costs five women their lives to a mysterious bloodstained set of coordinates tacked to the wall of an abandoned San Francisco penthouse, The Sea Came at Midnight is a breathtaking literary dance of fate and coincidence. And, unknown even to her, at the center of that dance is the seventeen-year-old.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

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.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Dificult to follow Feb. 28 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If a dream is a memory of the future... Jan. 22 2003
A sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing "memior of the future", this novel contains plot twists that in themselves are nothing short of amazing. The books many protagonists live as if in a surreal dreamworld of cultural movements, apocolyptic fear, horrific urban legends and even worse histories of the last century. The writing is very lyrical, but the narrative also has a frenetic science-fiction like pace that keeps you turning the pages with each cosmic coincidence. Very much like Delillo in delivery and Pynchonian in plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What is The Sea? Feb. 12 2001
The three nights I spent reading Erickson's "The Sea Came at Midnight" were both riveting and disturbing. Rarely do I dream, but Erickson's fantasy gave my nights urgent and almost panicked visions. In retrospect I fancy my mind unable to process the wild implications and subconscious import driven to point by only the experiences of his few characters. "The Sea Came at Midnight" is not only beautifully written and well-composed, but it is also ominous... Like all significant works of writing it leaves you hungrier than sated, straining to bring into focus the looming world you know lays waiting behind the words -- A world that is more your own than Erickson's, because he has only given you a fleeting, piercing glimpse at all you refuse to perceive about humanity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So good it�s scary Feb. 6 2001
'The Sea Came in at Midnight' is so good it's scary. I'm worried that it will be a long time before I read another novel that is so accomplished and successful in its intent. Maybe I shouldn't worry...maybe I only have to wait until I read another of Erickson's novels before I encounter such mastery again.
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.
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