Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2014 September 10 • Wednesday

"Once upon a time there was going to be a Beatles album called Get Back." That's the first line of Lewis Shiner's Glimpses, a fantasy novel about mid-life, family tensions, dependency, rock and roll and time travel.

It's a great book, though one I find hard to describe without making it sound dumb.

The main character is able to rescue lost albums like The Beatles' Get Back and The Doors' Celebration of the Lizard by a process of immersion and concentration, sort of a secular shamanism.

When it comes to The Beach Boys' Smile, however, he has to go back in time to 1966 and meet Brian Wilson, work on him in person to make it happen.

This takes a toll on him, both physically and emotionally. At the same time his marriage is falling apart and he's wrestling with a legacy of hard feelings he has for his father, whose recent death might have been the catalyst for these fantastic events.

Shiner's writing is flawless and highly enjoyable. His recreations of these famous musical icons and their work is completely believable. He never pushes too hard or goes too far and the book is free of giddiness or hyperbole. The Brian Wilson section is brilliant and struck me as a perfect creation.

The book's climax involves Hendrix, what might have happened if he hadn't died, what First Rays of the New Rising Sun might have been like if he'd been able to realize his vision for it. Shiner very wisely presents Hendrix as a different, more powerful character than those we've met before, a force whose direction is not as easy to change. Hendrix ends up leading the way to—well, I can't tell you, just in case you're interested.

Terrific book. I wish there more like this one!