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When the Twin Towers suddenly reappear in the Badlands of South
Dakota twenty years after their fall, nobody can explain their
return. To the hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands
drawn to the "American Stonehenge" — including Parker and
Zema, siblings on their way from L.A. to visit their mother in
Michigan — the Towers seem to sing, even as everybody hears a
different song. A rumor overtakes the throng that someone can be
seen in the high windows of the southern structure where, on the
ninety-third floor, Jesse Presley — the stillborn twin of the
most famous singer who ever lived — suddenly awakes. Over the
hours and days to come, Jesse is driven mad by a voice in his head
that sounds like his but isn't, and by the memory of a country where
he survived in his brother's place. Meanwhile, Parker and Zema cross
a possessed landscape by a mysterious detour no one knows, charted
on a map no one has seen.
"It's hard to know where to begin. It's sad and it's droll, and sometimes it's gorgeous... compassionate, weird, unpredictable, jaunty... alarmingly prescient.... In 2017, Shadowbahn reads like an answer to and sanctuary from the American Century to come."
Fiona Maazel, New York Times Book Review
"Jaw-dropping.... Into the radical audacity of Shadowbahn,
Erickson weaves an intensely personal self-reckoning, a playlist for
the dying American century, and his usual lucid-dreaming prose. I've
read every novel he's ever written and I'll still never know how he
does it; Erickson's not so much a writer's writer as a
"A great, great, great, great novel. I could say more — about its
big-world heartedness and old-world shadowness, about twins and
towers, brothers and sisters, road trips and borders we design and
transgress, and mostly about Erickson's beautiful heart-bit
music — and it would add up to the same thing: great. Sung, of
Mark Z. Danielewski
"Wild, inventive and surprising, Shadowbahn combines the
social novel, science-fiction novel, and family novel. Steve
Erickson is one of America's greatest living novelists."
"Shadowbahn has a simultaneous weight and lightness,
mapping out a counter-history where events that have touched all
Americans are given new shape and speak in new voices."
"Who else but Steve Erickson could have imagined the hallucinatory
composites that fill Shadowbahn? History is shadowed by sparkling
possibilities, dreams become reality, and reality returns us to the
music, the danger, the beauty and whimsy of the past, all converging
with a force no reader will resist."
"Devastating, perceptive, brilliant, written in the margins of the
American songbook and the shadow of the Twin Towers.... Erickson is
among the handful of essential American novelists. His books are great
unravelings, exposing the deepest enigmas of the American experience."
"Every time I open a Steve Erickson novel, I am whirled into a hundred
layers of story — of the stories no one else imagines — and I can't put it
down. This time, the Twin Towers and the Badlands: What could be more
American, and more of the world?"
"Shadowbahn is adventure, romp, exploration, an act of faith, dangerous,
funny, upsetting, certain to annoy the complacent (literary and
otherwise), and imparts the uneasy sensation that you're not reading it,
it's reading you."
"Mindbending... daringly written... a gem of a novel."
"The sleep of reason produces monsters, said Goya... with Shadowbahn,
Erickson stakes a claim to be one of the most centrifugal writers at
work today. Think Philip K. Dick on smoother acid and with a more
up-to-date soundtrack, and you've got something of this eminently
strange, thoroughly excellent book."
Kirkus [starred review]