cover image Shadowbahn


Steve Erickson. Blue Rider, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1201-5

In Erickson’s mind-bending latest, the Twin Towers suddenly reappear in the South Dakota badlands 20 years after 9/11, and as gawkers gather from around the fractured remains of the United States to see the structures, Jesse Presley, the twin of Elvis (who was stillborn back in 1935), comes to life as an adult on the 93rd floor of one of the towers. Unsure of where he is, Jesse wanders the floors and eventually bounces through time, experiencing a world in which he is shamed for taking the place of his famous brother. Frustrated and jealous, Jesse makes it his mission to destroy all music. Meanwhile, siblings Parker and Zema hear about the rematerialized Towers while driving from California to Michigan to visit their mother, and they decide to take a detour, yet as music slowly begins to disappear around them—vanishing from radio stations and physically from CDs and LPs—they soon realize their car, streaming playlists made by their late novelist father, is the only source of song left. Unusually structured and daringly written, Erickson’s gem of a novel is equally challenging and rewarding, spinning out thread after thread of story before skillfully tying them together in a satisfying climax. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (Feb.)