- Paperback: 526 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (September 30, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1502569027
- ISBN-13: 978-1502569028
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,578,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lost in Infinity: Deja Vu Redux Paperback – September 30, 2014
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"Lost in Infinity is a wonderful avant-garde achievement. Although plot and time lines may shift in confusing and unexpected ways, the abrupt nature of the structure is merely echoing the conflict within Travis. The real triumph of this book is that readers will actually share in the frustration of fictional Travis as Besecker's writing immerses readers into this fascinating yet uncomfortable story." - Wise Bear Book Reviews
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Had it been about a third the size, I suspect I would be singing its praises. Instead I have to give it one of the harshest critiques I can imagine. You can quite simply skip the first quarter of this book. You won’t miss anything.
I don’t mean you won’t miss anything important, I mean you won’t miss a single word. The majority of the scenes in Lost in Infinity repeat more than once. Verbatim.
I have to admit part of the reason that I didn’t just stop reading as soon as I realized that was the fictional Besecker’s plea that everyone gives up on him. And I wanted to like the book since the real Besecker gave mine a good review. I didn’t want to give up on him on the theory that all the repetition was for a reason. Under other circumstances, I don’t think I would have finished the book. I was tempted to put it down several times and finally was just skimming parts to get to non repeated scenes.
I’m glad I didn’t put it down. While I don’t feel the end justified all the word for word repetition, the end made it feel purposeful and meaningful. But honestly, the best thing someone could do for this book would be to take an editing machete to it. It needs the repetitive feel, not actual repetition.
The basic story is wonderfully horrific and farther off the beaten path than I feel most writers are willing to go. I feel like some of the subtlest and most characterizing scenes get steam rollered over for the sake of retelling the same backbone scenes.
That much shorter story, without all the trappings is worth a read. This book, well, as Besecker says, this story isn’t for everyone. I think you’ll have to love repetition more than me for it to be for you.
What do I mean by contradictions? Let’s start with the book’s very foundation: Travis. On the one hand this is a very personal book—it’s Travis’s own diary, with details about his insomnia and his fear of infinity, while on the other hand the author bio says it’s a work of fiction. The construction of the novel suggests that it’s a memoir, but maybe it’s not—I had the feeling that parts of Travis’s life that he didn’t want to talk about were absent. Lost In Infinity doesn’t give a clear answer as to what’s actually true about Travis—the name of both the author and the main character—and what’s an artistic creation. There’s a huge gray area that could be real or fictional, which makes the novel disorienting.
The second clash between extremes concerns the “real-unreal” axis. Lost In Infinity never answers the question of whether an event is something real or something produced by Travis’ mind. Moreover, some fragments of the book repeat, creating a literary déjà vu, making the reader think wait, I’ve read that before, but in different contexts, so that in the end you really have no idea if you yourself made up some sections. Did that already happen, or am I being reminded of another book?
And finally there’s contradiction number three: Travis, Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde. One moment it’s very serious, and a few paragraphs later it’s funny. Travis has serious mental health problems, but is still successful. He’s very intelligent, but seems not to realize how huge his potential is. He’s afraid of his nighttime companion, The Shadow Man, but seeks out his advice. He’s very sensitive, but also egoistic and self-centered. One moment you love him and feel pity for him, while a few pages later you really hate his attitude.
Despite the fact that Travis can be pretty annoying, he’s a good storyteller. Once you begin reading Lost In Infinity, you really are lost to the world—you’re going to read it until you reach the end. He tells his story, from childhood, through adolescence and adult life, including encounters with his psychiatrists, doctors, family, and friends. He brings the reader inside his (and his relatives’) struggles with insomnia, phobias, compulsive disorders, and apeirophobia. My favorite genre—something I explore as an author and like to write—is the psychological thriller, so the opportunity to get inside a troubled mind this deeply was something I was looking for. But, as I said, this is not a walk in the park—more like a sprint through a battlefield. But on this battlefield, if you’re careful and alert, you’ll find answers and information you’ve been looking for.
As I read, I took photos of some of the most interesting passages—I do this all the time so that I can keep fragments of texts that have touched me close at hand. Here is my favorite: “My theory has always been that when the soul is able to open and splinter itself, throwing the pieces into the world for everyone to be affected, the creator is left broken”. As an artist I’ve been trying to formulate this very idea, and finally got some assistance from Travis. But I want to add something to this rather sad statement: being broken is also what I am looking for. It’s okay to be broken.
Did I get a headache writing this review? Maybe a small one. But it’s okay to have a headache—the point of Lost In Infinity is to move you, and it moved me. I’m touched—I’m still thinking about Travis. And I’ll definitely return to this novel, again and again—deja vu.
The narrator retells the story multiple times but each time a different section of his life is covered or revealed, this kept me wanting more. The book is a beautiful read with a lovely and often humorous voice. Despite material that may at first seem opaque the reader never feels out of the loop and I read it easily and very quickly.
I also enjoyed reading its easy style and glimpses into a troubled but fascinating character. Time-travel, childhood, love and religion all feature in this great book. Highly recommend it to anyone who loves reading great books. Buy it, sit back and enjoy.
A copy of this book was supplied by the author in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.