Steve Erickson is a visionary novelist whose time has come. Considered by many the secret heir to Pynchon and DeLillo, he has steadily acquired a passionate following of readers over the course of five previous novels. Now, with The Sea Came at Midnight, Erickson delivers a masterwork of intense feeling, scope and power--an intimate epic of late twentieth-century civilization in free fall, an unforgettable young woman's revelation amid the ruins.
In the final seconds of the old millennium, 1,999 women and children march off the edge of a cliff in Northern California, urged on by a cult of silent men in white robes. Kristin was meant to be the two-thousandth to fall. But when at the last moment she flees, she exchanges one dark destiny for a future that will unravel the present.
Answering a cryptic personals ad for a woman "at the end of her rope," Kristin finds temporary haven in the Hollywood Hills with an older, unnamed man as obsessed as he is spiritually ravaged. In a locked room at the bottom of his house, he labors over his life's work: a massive blue calendar the size of a tsunami that measures modern time by the events of chaos and pinpoints the true beginning of the new millenium as not midnight December 31, 1999, but the early hours of one May morning in 1968. This calendar is shot through with the threads of other lives-those searching for a small measure of redemption and an answer to the question, "What's missing from the world?"
From a ritual sacrifice in the name of salvation to a ritual sacrifice in the name of pleasure, from an ancient haunted Celtic tower in Brittany to the revolving memory hotels of Tokyo, from a cinematic hoax in Manhattan that costs five women their lives to a mysterious bloodstained set of coordinates tacked to the wall of an abandoned San Francisco penthouse, The Sea Came at Midnight is a breathtaking literary dance of fate and coincidence. And, unknown even to her, at the center of that dance is the seventeen-year-old.
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God invented millennia for writers like Steve Erickson. Erickson's previous books have buried L.A.'s freeways in sand, set bonfires in Paris streets, and hitched along for the 1996 presidential campaign. In terms of madness, doom, and sheer human folly, what could possibly be left? Plenty, as it turns out. As The Sea Came in at Midnight opens, 17-year-old Kristin works in a Japanese "memory hotel," where despite her so-so looks she's in high demand. As an American, "Kristin represents the Western annihilation of ancient Japanese memory and therefore its master and possessor, a red bomb in one hand, a red bottle of soda pop in the other." After one of her best clients expires in the booth, she finally tells him her own story--which turns out to be quite a tale, involving escape from a millennial suicide cult and nude solitary confinement at the behest of a man known only as the Occupant. Add in the novel's other threads, which span 40 years and include a dream cartographer, a chaos-based calendar, time capsules, and both real and faked snuff films, and you have a heady mixture indeed. Fans of Erickson's unsettling, dreamlike style are legion, and they won't be disappointed in his latest take on the End Time, Blade Runner-style. But in a way, the millennium is beside the point; with a plot like this one, a mere flipping of digits seems so much apocalyptic icing on the cake. Combing a lyrical surrealism with a jittery, jump-cut technique, Erickson writes like the 21st-century heir of Pynchon and DeLillo. --Chloe ByrneAbout the Author:
Steve Ericksons previous novels, including Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc dX and Amnesiascope, have been published in ten languages throughout Europe and Asia, and his work has appeared in such magazines and journals as Esquire, Elle, Rolling Stone, Spin, San Francisco, Conjunctions and Salon.
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