No-one pushes the boundaries like this, and, with the emphasis on the story taking place within the story to evermore kaleidoscopic heights, Steve Erickson's latest novel is a book about to implode. You might find the overt styling (structure is a cats cradle, characters flit in and out like shadows) just too intrusive. But The Sea Came in at Midnight is, simply, atale of half a dozen or characters whose pre-milennial tension sends them around the world, chasing threads that connect them so tenuously, that sometimes, we, the reader, forget that we alone are privy to their inter-connections. Don't spread your reading into sessions too far strung out. Time and again I had to back track. Characters are glued together by circumstance but often never meet. What's it all about ? God only knows. Stylistic fireworks and soulful,human, moving events played out as the century folds into itself. The Sea Came in at Midnight kicks asps.
Erickson's apocalypic-themed book has to be one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. I had to stop and think what he was smoking when he wrote it. But the novel is intense and deep and thought-provoking enough to the point where I could not put it down. I had to know what would come of the main character, a girl who allows herself to become a sex slave to an anonymous stranger. There is also a strange unsettling vibe that the reader picks up, because of the underlying tones of almost erotic mysteriousness. Toss in a rotating Japanese hotel, a snuff film, 2000 people walking off a cliff, and a life-size Apocalyptic Calendar and you've got one hell of a bizarre book. Some parts are just too weird and Erickson probably could have made them fly if he didn't try so hard, but that's about the only pitfall I came across while reading.
Steve Erickson follows up Amnesiascope with what is, in my opinion, a superior effort. The novel enacts a de-centring narrative structure which calls for subsequent re-reading and internet style page shuffling. The Sea Came in at Midnight succeeds in being both cute in an experimental postmodern sense and yet is never soulless. Whilst he never matches the density of say a Foster Wallace or a Pynchon he is still significantly ahead of any equivalent in Britain.