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Glimpses Paperback – August 6, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Shiner ( Slam , LJ 8/1/90, among others) has written what may be the first rock n roll time-travel novel. Ray Chackleford is a self-employed electronics repairman whose marriage is foundering and whose father has recently died. These unresolved relationships are complicated when Ray travels to the Mexican site of his father's death and promptly falls in love with a woman even more unstable than he. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, Ray--a rock drummer during his youth in the late Sixties--begins to hear in his head and manages to transfer to tape legendary unfinished recordings by Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, and Jimi Hendrix. This music is accompanied by "journeys" into the troubled lives of these rock musicians. Shiner's appealing main character and his gripping style overcome the less believable aspects of his story. With the current comeback of the Sixties, this novel should be widely popular.
- A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Can the 60's cure the 90's? That's what Texas stereo repairman Ray Shackleford struggles to prove in this strenuous fantasy of rock- and-roll hits that never were. Shortly after his unloving father drowns in Cozumel, Ray starts to imagine he's hearing impossible songtracks that he's able to record directly from his head. He takes his tape of the Beatles' never- recorded hit ``The Long and Winding Road'' to L.A. producer Graham Hudson, who's already remastered three volumes of Glimpses from rock's legendary past, and Graham persuades him to go after bigger game. So Ray travels back in time, changing history enough so that Jim Morrison can record Celebration of the Lizard and Brian Wilson can persist in his breakthrough album Smile. There's money to be made here, of course, but what Ray and Graham really want is to save the world by recalling the aging rock audience to its ardent roots. (Maybe a little too ardent, as when Ray wonders, ``Was it that way for everybody, music and sex and politics and love all inextricably part of each other, or is it just me?'') Trying to come to terms with his hated father's death, Ray takes time out to retrace his steps in Cozumel, attempting to re-create his own experience of the 60's more directly in 1989, but his romance with a diving instructor seems to open wide the rift in his ten-year marriage without giving him a satisfactory alternative, and he ends up repeating his father's experience instead of accepting it. So it's back to the past for one last try--with a Jimi Hendrix album that Ray hopes can keep the 60's from ending. As you'd expect from versatile fantasist Shiner (Slam, 1990, etc.), Ray's attempts to keep the faith by resurrecting Jimi and laying his own father to rest are powerfully affecting. Much more than yuppie reunions like The Big Chill, this captures a generation's sweet, desperate yearning for the 60's--though it ends up as authentically woolly as the period. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; Reprint edition (August 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596063513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596063518
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I can't turn it off, turn it down, wash it off, or get it out of my head. This book has really gotten to me.
Did you ever notice how full of feeling some Beach Boys songs are? How "Good Vibrations" is a jolt of pure happiness and hope, a ray of sonic sunshine? This is a book for people who've noticed things like that. But "Glimpses" is much more than a love letter to great music or a document of the late sixties --it's a shamanic journey into human powers of healing, repair, and redemption through spiritual and emotional connection.
The book is actually set in the late eighties: Tienanmen Square, Lockerbie, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Milli Vanilli, Richard Marx, Martika... The ordinary-guy protagonist, stereo repairman Ray Shackleford, becomes able, through music, to enter altered states of consciousness and being--he closes his eyes, sinks into the music, and he's twenty years in the past, with the Beatles, with Jim Morrison, with Brian Wilson.
IMO, here's where the author turns what could have been a straightforward novel of time-travel into a shamanic journey of raw spiritual power--because it's NOT the past Ray is visiting, as his actions there never affect the present. I'd argue that he's entering the collective unconscious of our species--a sort of matrix of memory and desire. While in this realm of the unconscious, Ray Shackleford, music lover and accidental shaman, meets the musical gods of the late Sixties, on a mission to save their great works lost to mental illness or death. Instead of just repairing stereos, he tries to repair the past: the lost life, the lost futures, and the lost music.
Amazingly, the human drama of Ray's everyday life is even more compelling than his nonordinary travels.
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The first three years after discovering Glimpses by Lewis Shiner I read it once a year, which doesn't happen to me very often in reading a book.

Ray Shackleford is a stereo repairman with problems. A father with whom he had a contentious relationship has died under mysterious circumstances, his marriage is unraveling like a ball string in his fingers and he can't quite grasp the threads to pull it back together, a burgeoning drinking problem, and a career as a rock star that never got started much less going anywhere. But he has discovered a means of escape, by retreating into the past, and not just any past, he retreats to the 60's to help the idols of his Rock `n' Roll dreams reclaim what they've lost, their lost albums. Brian Wilson's Smile, Jim Morrison and The Celebration of the Lizard, and Jimi Hendrix's The First Rays of the New Rising Sun.

I first read this book because I was looking for a nice escapist book to lose myself in for a few hours. I found that. The more I read the more I found myself drawn in, especially to Ray's trips to the past, his getting drawn into Brian Wilson's family, living the Rock `n' Roll lifestyle with Jim Morrison as his guide, and Ray's truly heartbreaking attempts to keep Jimi Hendrix from dying. The question is will these trips to the past help Ray heal the same issues he has in his life?

There is the element of time travel in this book. Is Ray really going back into the past and meeting his idols? Or is he suffering a series of strokes? Glimpses offers evidence of both, giving the reader the choice of which is truly occurring.

On each reading of Glimpses, I found something new in it, some nuance previously undiscovered. I guess one could say that is due to the changing circumstances of my life. But isn't that the mark of any good book? That we can find something new in it from whatever perspective in life we are coming at it?
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GLIMPSES was Lewis Shiner's 4th novel, published in 1993. The protagonist, Ray, a late 30s ex-drummer and now full time musical equipment repair guy discovers that he has the ability to imagine music that might have been, but never was, and not only get it to play out of a stereo system, but actually be recorded. When he plays a recording of "The Long and Winding Road" the way if would have sounded before Phil Spector got his hands on the master tapes for the owner of a Rhino Records type company that releases old bootlegs and rare outtakes and the like from 1960s era bands, he gets talked into trying to first recreate the rumored but never actually recorded "Celebration of the Lizard" by the Doors. There is a segment on Brian Wilson's begun in 1966 but then abandoned "Smile", and a final one about Jimi Hendrix's "The First Rays of the New Rising Sun. In between and at the end there is a lot of not particularly interesting stuff about Ray's relationships with his father, mother, wife and past and present girlfriends.

The writing is OK but not particularly poetic and the pacing is best described as languid. If one is interested in the history of the Doors, Beach Boys and Jimi they will probably like this novel. The Brian Wilson segment is the best (and also the weirdest, as Ray time travels back to 1966 and Brian's Hollywood mansion a lá the movie "Somewhere in Time"), and the Hendrix segment the weakest (perhaps because I cared the most about it and as a 60 year old guitarist, knew more about Hendrix's music and life than I did about the Doors or the Beach Boys).
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