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O watches the North Tower for signs of life when the tower’s “whole pointis its emptiness” and is haunted by the voice in his head of another America where his despised stillborn twin survived in his place and became the most famous singer of all time. Steve Erickson s Shadowbahn is deliciously out there You won t read anything else like it this year From its startling premise to its beautiful writing it s a truly engaging read It s thought provoking and strange and a wild ride I thought it was great Shadowbahn is set in 2021 Twenty years after 911 the Twin Towers have reappeared in the Badlands of South Dakota People from around the world begin flocking to see this impossible phenomenon The Towers are emitting music and everyone hears a different song Brother and sister Parker and Zema are on their way from Los Angeles to Michigan to visit their mother and they decide to go out of their way to see the TowersHigh up in one of the Towers a grownup Jesse Presley Elvis s stillborn brother wakes up Jesse constantly hears the music of his brother in his head And he has dreams of an America where he survived in place of his brotherSounds crazy right Somehow Erickson makes it all work The chapters are short so that makes Shadowbahn a fast read At the same time I found myself savoring this book rereading passages because they were so beautiful or profound There are great characterizations especially of Parker and Zema and their family and of Jesse Presley The narrative is rich with music There s the music coming from the Towers and then there s the playlist of their dad s that Parker and Zema listen to on their road trip This playlist is accompanied by notes on the selections that their father compiled which are interspersed throughout the narrative The short chapters and musical analysis are also joined by articles throughout It s a good mix of mediums to tell this story Shadowbahn is perfect for music lovers and Elvis lovers It presents a cool alternate history How different would the world be if Elvis hadn t survived at birth Very different With the major revelations that come at the end Erickson wraps things up masterfully There is a huge payoff This is a wholly uniue work that is refreshing in its weirdness and speculation Highly recommended if you want to expand your literary horizons

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Shadowbahn

Housands converge on what one newsmagazine calls the “American Stonehenge” as strange musical visions manifest themselves in a kind of sonic rorschach Living alone inside the South Tower is Jesse Garon Presley who happens to be Elvis’s twin brother wh. Did not finish gave up at 47% Couldn t get into it although the premise is so interesting However the very short chapters one on every page the intertwined and disjointed threads made it hard for me to get into it or care about what s going on The musical references one every two or so sentences were way too many for me And Presley s stillborn twin made no sense in the narrative Could be the fact that I m not an American and maybe there are some nuances to it I didn t get even so I really don t care If written fluent and with a coherent storyline I think I would have liked it As such I m glad I moved on

Steve Erickson à 5 Free read

An hypnotic mix of rock ‘n’ roll familial obsessions and an alternative American history Shadowbahn takes place in a world in which one afternoon in the not too distant future the Twin Towers suddenly appear in the middle of the Dakota BadlandsTens of t. This was a brilliant collage of short narratives on America as ephemeral dreamscape and one man s attempt to envision and incarnate its essence by songscape The structure of the assembly mostly involves the twining of three strands connected by interfaces with the crystalizing event of the 911 devastation The sudden appearance of the Twin Towers in the Badlands in a near future 20 years after 911 captures the attention of millions The buildings are empty except for Jesse Presley who emerges very confused in a parallel universe where he was the stillborn twin of Elvis instead of the vice versa we experience Everyone hears music around the Towers but each hears something different Among those who visit are a brother and sister driving across country to seek reconciliation with their father the second thread to that of Jesse s adventures The father has sent the siblings his white son Parker and adopted daughter Sheba from Ethiopia recordings of a twin set of playlists to inspire them on their journey Notes for each pair of songs make up the third major set of narrative pieces Soon it becomes apparent that things are different in this world aside from it being 2021 and the transtemporal visitation by the Twin Towers The US now includes nations of Union and Disunion John Kennedy never became president and was assassinated But this is not really an alternative history fantasy or sci fi portrayal of how parallel universes might operate The absurd premise of the plot context should not put off prospective readers One should take them as a poetic metaphorical way to explore the vacuum of the American Dream in this century and a look to music as the medium to find our way In this light all the short episodes of narrative usually 1 2 pages make for a fun and spritely ride The play of twin ness makes for a lively uber theme twin towers twins siblings paired playlists and flip sides of 45 singles not to mention the dual universes dual nations white and black races and lots of mirroring reflections and shadows Most readers will have knowledge of only a small fraction of the music referred to but the father s assessment of song pairs in his list is elouently elaborated and comprehensible without direct knowledge I felt I was getting some significant glimpses as to how a song is so embedded in the culture at a particular time and place as to embody both the travails of the past within the present and hopes ambitions and projections for the future I loved these pieces for the way they connect disparate music and make reflections on how the songs both capture and predict the travails and aspirations of the American peopleFor example here is the shortest entry for song notes A Change is Gonna Come and What Becomes of the Brokenhearted The first song because any national discography that excludes it invalidates itself and the second because when the singer sings As I walk this land of broken dreams it becomes clear that the thing breaking his heart is the very land itself that he walksAs another example this excerpt pairs a song of Duke Ellington with that of Mile Davis Black and Tan Fantasy is part witty funeral march interspersed with a twilit summer stroll down Lenox Avenue as though the body on its way to an eternal resting place in a Harlem cemetery lets loose its spirit for one last jaunt around the neighborhood The deep Harlem grave is a portal to forty years later when a St Louis dentist s son with a horn leads an expedition to the end of African exile the exodus not from slavery to freedom as in the Old Testament but the other way around Miles Runs the Voodoo Down isn t just three centuries of a people s history in fourteen musical minutes marked by wail smolder outburst and flying dutchman phantasmatoons adrift on the shoals of reef smashed chords it s the response from the damned America to the call of that America that might still be redeemed in Black and Tan Fantasy as the spirit of America takes off from its body on its way to being interred for one last jaunt around all the possibilities that the country once imagined for itself even as those possibilities were betrayed before the country began As well running down the voodoo the horn player a man of no small ego now pursues and sets to music his own oblivion the sound of his own nothingness the sound of something beyond burial The piece continues with a distillation of how Jimmie Hendrix is intermediary between the two with songs that shadow bothThe purpose of the siblings father in creating a national playlist is to somehow address how wealth and power is the only American idea left If the evil of the attacks on that September morning could be set aside and of course it could not nothing better presented America with the opportunity to reimagine itself This was at once an opportunity at once botched and fulfilled with on the one hand a war of worse faith than anything the country has done in a hundred years and be the election on the other hand of a man the color of African orphans all followed by hope s collapseNow that is something I can get on board with If it s going to be a mindtrip on the order of Pynchon or Delillo it helps the pleasure meter if there are some graspable and relevant themes fun along the way and that it s not a megabook As it gets harder and harder to have pride in America as a political identity it s refreshing to hope in its continued nurturing of wonderful music as a way we might find an identity within the cosmic map I refrain from saying anything about the engaging missions of Jesse and the ParkerSheba siblings But they do travel a lot and sweep you along somewhere in the lanes between On the Road and Electric Kool Aid Acid Test Sheba reflects at one point near the Dakotas that there have been no exits on the Shadowbahn that hurtles them onward through the shadowcountry and through the shadowcenturyTo whet your interest further I can say there is an intriguing puzzle about a song which warns of danger from planes in NYC before 911 and its connection to Elvis and the song Oh Shenandoah The education about that song was a delight in itself as it has enough multicultural adaptations from a French trader love song to his Indian bride to a black spiritual version check out Robeson s take on YouTube that makes a perfect national song I plan in the future to listen to songs from the playlists which I see is available on Rhapsody under the titles Shadowbahn and Shadowbohn2 as well as Spotify The writer Fiona Maazel in her review found a lot of satisfaction from exploring the songs New York Times Feb 10 2017 The trouble is that we often don t know the singer or performance is being referred to eg Brokenhearted mentioned above and the playlist may undergo changes as time goes on Slippery when wet it seemsI think a key factor is whether this book is for you is how well you tolerate play with elements of synchronicity For me I need some vehicle to deal with the potency of 911 in terms of impact Such an out of the blue to our sensibility of safety and integrity and awful in the escalation of death through the wars it spawned and growth of xeno and Islamophobia The events is worthy of an allegorical warping of space time At the same time a successful attack seems so desirable to our many enemies and thus so predictable So much chance in its success and yet almost miraculous to the totality of the Tower s destruction from a strike up in the sky In the absence of a faith in God sometimes I can t help drifting into some sense of everything being connected to everything and peek into my mental closet of inadeuate knowledge of uantum physics Books like Crying Lot of 49 or Underworld prey on that hunger to look for lessons in reality I know it s chance but I still feel eerie to see the plane flying near the Twin Towers in this cover of Delillo s book published in 1997


10 thoughts on “Shadowbahn

  1. says:

    the music became inextricable from the paroxysms of his country Did his country lead him to the music or did the music lead him to his country?i was so excited a few months back to hear that steve erickson had a new book coming out and so titillated by jonathan lethem's saying of it in granta wayyy back in december 2015

  2. says:

    See Toldja that whole Beatles Man or Elvis Man dichotomy was bullshit I am in both camps which means that Steve Erickson believes I am one of many molecules holding together the fabric of the Western cultural cosmo

  3. says:

    This was a brilliant collage of short nar

  4. says:

    Premise the Twin Towers mysteriously appear on the Badlands of South Dakota from them comes a stream of music and everyone hears a different song Isn’t that a cool idea? I thought so when I reuested a review copy I imagined something of the order of a Tim Powers novel with flights of wacky imagination resolvin

  5. says:

    Did not finish gave up at 47% Couldn’t get into it although the premise is so interesting However the very short chapters – one on every page – the intertwined and disjointed threads made it hard for me to get into it or care about what’s going on The musical references – one every two or so sentences – were way too many for me A

  6. says:

    I am not even going to pretend the premise isn’t crazy Twenty years after they fell the Twin Towers reappear in South Dakota They a

  7. says:

    Boy I didn't like this book The firsthalf I'd say it was a strong 3 stars towers mystery brosis driving toward it their story was really compelling Then at approximately the halfway point the bookdevolved? It became of series of semi cohesive ideas and mad ramblings about music that came across like your local r

  8. says:

    Steve Erickson's Shadowbahn is deliciously out there You won't read anything else like it this year From its startling premise to its beautiful writing it's a truly engaging read It's thought provoking and strange and a wild ride I thought it was great Shadowbahn is set in 2021 Twenty years after 911 the Twin Towers have reappeared in the Badlands of South Dakota People from around the world begin flocking to see this impossible phenomen

  9. says:

    There's music coming out of me that's not mine There's singing in my head that's not meThis was my first exposure to Steve Erickson astonishing given that the author has nine previous novels and has won both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lan

  10. says:

    So what to make of Steve Erickson’s Shadowbahn It’s already been described as the first post Trump novel which is a tad ironic given the President – not named – in Erickson’s near future the book is set in 2021 is female and it’s under this female President look we know it’s Hillary that America fractures into a “disunion” Not even Erickson for all the weirdness that occurs in Shadowbahn could imagine a Trump Presidency Th

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