cover image Glimpses


Lewis Shiner. William Morrow & Company, $21 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12411-3

With Slam (1990), Shiner began the move away from his roots in science fiction towards the mainstream, a trend that continues in his latest effort. Here he adds a sci-fi touch to what is essentially a story of middle-aged angst. As Texas stereo repairman Ray Shackleford approaches 40, his marriage is moribund, his dreams of playing rock-and-roll guitar are fading and his estranged father has died in a scuba-diving accident. The twist comes right up front: working in his shop, ruminating on his troubles and fantasizing about the never-completed Beatles album Get Back , Ray finds he can not only imagine the music in extraordinary detail but can also make it play from his speakers. Mystified, Ray records the results and sends the tape to an oldies record producer, beginning an odyssey during which Ray goes on to finish the Doors' Celebration of the Lizard and other albums, eventually having seemingly real encounters with dead rockers the likes of Brian Wilson and Jimi Hendrix. While his life takes this odd turn, Ray begins to work through some of his problems, maturing and coming to terms with his father's death. Shiner writes with intense feeling about the music Ray loves and the turmoil he endures. The novel sparkles with painfully perfect evocations of the yearning, anomie and need that wrack Ray, yielding a story of uncommon sensitivity, insight and redemptive power. First serial to Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. (July)