Tours of the Black Clock: A Novel


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I don't want to read into it because frankly I don't care. This is my third attempt to re-read, or re-tackle Erickson's works and I was again disappointed. Style aside, and the quote above should do, the plot itself was wanting. I guess if you care about Hitler's love life, you might be drawn to this work. I'm not sure what to think of that.

There's an awful lot of rape and the women here are basically there to be obsessed over and used for various sexual purposes. To put it crudely and in geometrical terms, women are essentially empty shapes that the man-shape must fill, in this case a covetous Hitler and various other male characters who may or may not be related. Like all Erickson books there is a mysterious woman in a blue dress. Strange weather. And so on. I'll keep plowing on, though.

Feb 27, Jonathan rated it it was amazing. Aside from Gravity's Rainbow, this has one of the most resonant opening lines I've read. There's a fable-like quality to all of Steve Erickson's books - really elegant sentences that follow elliptical paths - that makes the kinds of connections only accessible in altered states.

Although his other novels do this to a greater extent, the post-apocalyptic worlds, he creates have a really heavy sense of atmosphere that remind me of even sadder versions of Bellona in Stephen Donaldson's Dhalgren.

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If Aside from Gravity's Rainbow, this has one of the most resonant opening lines I've read. If you've ever seen Lars Von Trier's The Element Of Crime, that's pretty much exactly what I imagined a Steve Erickson-imagined city to look like, but it's so dreamlike I've tried to watch it twice, and passed out both times.

Still, someone one wrote to Erickson to say they'd read three chapters of his novel and now couldn't find their own bathroom, so it's quite fitting I guess. Apr 07, bobbygw rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction. For some unfathomable reason - and no doubt also to other devotees of his early novels - Erickson has gained only a small readership, although he has garnered some impressive reviews by a number of critics both in the US and Europe.

Tours of the Black Clock

Sadly, I just don't think Erickson has ever been marketed or promoted properly or with any real understanding of how amazing and original novelist he is. For this fiction at least, there is no doubt that Erickson deserves more attention and celebration, and popularity. His fiction has a stark, poetic and haunting brilliance, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison at her most intense; i.

The novel begins with Banning Jainlight, who is found dead in a boarding room, along with Dania, the obsession of his life, and Marc, their son - a product of surreality itself. Dania's and Marc's presence acts as a sort of catalyst, enabling Banning to narrate his story and, by doing so, reveals the myriad and complex memories that connect them and shape their histories. Banning's life is experienced in a non-linear way; chronology and space become multi-dimensional as one memory merges with another.

At the same time, his thoughts often assume a physicality, shaping the history of Dania's life, and extending and weaving the web of characters and stories that are being told. Without his at first realising, Banning becomes a writer of erotic, strange stories for Adolf Hitler's consumption during WW2; stories which - unbeknownst to Banning - fuel Hitler's megalomaniac passions. History overturns itself, becoming a nightmarish Wonderland, and the world becomes bleak and decidedly Orwellian in this alternative reality. The last few lines ending this tour de force are a match for and an homage to James Joyce's ending in his famous Dubliners' story, The Dead, when the main character Gabriel watches the snow fall.

And are brilliantly, beautifully done. This is truly mesmeric modern fiction at its best. It portrays an overwhelming knot of obsessions of voyeurism, erotic desire, of the licentious nature of power unchecked, and of the pain and anguish that make up the absurd time black clock that ticked away on the face of the 20th century. Oct 12, Carl rated it really liked it. His stories are always unstuck in time and place, there is this theme that all history is happening at the same time. All his books put together in a row feel like a single epic in Erickson world, like the worlds o Steve Erickson should be much more famous than he is, at least as famous as, say, Haruki Murakami, a writer he has a fair amount in common with, in particular Murakami's Wind Up Bird Chronicles or Kafka On The Shore.

All his books put together in a row feel like a single epic in Erickson world, like the worlds of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or William Faulkner, or even Kurt Vonnegut. And yes, there is even some Pynchon in there. After recently slogging through the Complete Stories Of Kafka, I also appreciated what a page-turner this book is. It even works if you read it like a slightly off-kilter sci-fi alternate history novel a la Man In The High Castle. Sure, let's compare him to Philip K. Dick as well. He's good. Feb 08, Sirama rated it really liked it Shelves: stories.

Let's be honest: the plot does not satisfy the hunger for a story. Somehow, the language holds you to the viscera of the text, igniting the hope in your mind that on the last page it will all make sense. It doesn't, as it should rather shouldn't if one is to read an intriguing and truly historical novel. Truly, meaning not in the least, and the point is just that, there is no point. Not a starting one and certainly not narratively speaking. Read this without an agenda, because it will destroy Let's be honest: the plot does not satisfy the hunger for a story.

Read this without an agenda, because it will destroy any you may have. Dec 30, Bradley rated it it was amazing. I didn't really like this the first time I read it. But there was just something about Erickson's writing, and I tried another book by him.

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Now he's one of my favorite writers. I liked this one a lot more my second time. Oct 30, Whitney rated it it was amazing. A kind of Nazi fever dream. But in a good way. Damnit, now I have to read Zeroville , though fortunately not as stylistic research for my next writing project, despite having little interest in its subject matter, on account of its seeming to be his passion project, though there's a lot of what I assume to be channeling of personal grief at and general wrestling with the 20th Century here.

Parts of it are almost truly great, but there's also a great deal of pointless and lazy genrefuckery, stemming I, would assume, from what gave Zeroville li Damnit, now I have to read Zeroville , though fortunately not as stylistic research for my next writing project, despite having little interest in its subject matter, on account of its seeming to be his passion project, though there's a lot of what I assume to be channeling of personal grief at and general wrestling with the 20th Century here.

Parts of it are almost truly great, but there's also a great deal of pointless and lazy genrefuckery, stemming I, would assume, from what gave Zeroville life. Obviously a major influence on The Kindly Ones , which I love to bits, but, unlike that, this made me cry a lot, Russian Field of Experiments and whatnot, though the latter's more fun and has a stranglehold on tone, or, this being that period in history, tonality, haha All the stars. I liked this book, but I'm not at all sure that I understood it. The writing is compelling, almost hypnotic -- I found it difficult to put down -- but I always felt as if the actual meaning was hidden just around the next corner.

KIRKUS REVIEW

Or as if the true meaning had trickled out of the sentences just before I got there, leaving only enough shape to hint or misdirect? This is a story about It's about Geli Raubal but not the real one. It's about Dania, a woman who isn't Geli Raubal except sort of, in someone else's head. It's about Banning Jainlight, who is in love with Dania or maybe he just invents her.

It's about Jainlight's pornographic stories about Dania or maybe they're true stories of his love affair with her. It's about "the most evil man in the world," i. Hitler, who is obsessed with Jainlight's porn about Dania because in his head it's about Geli Raubal, and who ends up a sad, pathetic, senile old man. It's about Marc, the son of Hitler and Dania, or maybe Jainlight and Dania, or maybe just Dania herself or maybe he's fictional too.

All these people cross back and forth between realities, or maybe between reality and unreality, in a weird braiding of time and space. It's never clear what's real and what isn't. The most extreme example may be the silver buffalo, which you'd think pretty much have to be a metaphor since they come perpetually pouring out of a black cave and some people can't even see them, but yet they're substantial enough to trample Dania's mother to death in Africa and rampage through the streets of Davenhall Island off the coast of Washington state.

Are they the hours and minutes of one reality pouring out into another? But the book is also about love and hate and cruelty and pity and obsession and fear and loneliness and forgiveness and good and evil. I don't know what Erickson's intent was, but I ended up feeling desperately sad for every single person in this story, even crazy senile pathetic old man Hitler.

If all of this makes it sound like the book is strange and puzzling and perhaps unsettling, that's good because it is. Don't let that stop you from reading it. But don't expect a straightforward narrative: it's more like a spiral or a double helix or one of those complicated Spirograph patterns.

NB: I have to admit the metaphor of the "black clock" was entirely lost on me -- no idea what that was meant to be about. Why black? Why a clock? What is this about numbers falling? Why is Marc listening for ticking icebergs at the end?? Jun 17, Craig rated it it was amazing Shelves: hallicinatory-novels. A twilight trip to an alternative version of the 20th Century Steve Erickson claims kinship with authors Philip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon, and its easily to see why. Like those authors, he subtly twists the nature of reality and history until it resembles the inner both philosophical and psychological landscapes of his characters.

This novel is about white-haired Marc and his mother, who live on a small island in the middle of a fog-shrouded river in the Pacific Northwest. They have an estran A twilight trip to an alternative version of the 20th Century Steve Erickson claims kinship with authors Philip K. They have an estranged relationship with each other, stemming from the fact that Marc doesn't know who his father is, and his mother will not speak to him about her past. One day, he comes home and finds her with a dead man at her feet. The image so disturbs him that he will not set foot on the island for about 20 years.

He takes over the ferry that shuttles tourists back and forth. He finally goes back to the hotel where his mother lives, in search of a mysterious girl who has not stepped back onto the return ferry to the mainland, and runs into his mother. The ghost of the dead man is still at her feet, and he tells both mother and son of his strange history.

Banning Jainlight was the bastard son of a farmer and his Native American slave mistress in the earlier part of the century. He ends up burning down the farm, killing one of his half-brothers, and crippling both his father and his step-mother for the cruelty they inflicted on him. He runs away to New York City, and several years later, ends up in Vienna, Austria, where he writes pornography for a powerful client in the newly ascendant Nazi Regime. He bases his writings on the strange, surreal sexual encounters he has with a young woman who lives across the street from him.

In his writings, he transforms her features and her name to resemble those of the client's -- who is, of course, Hitler -- long lost love. Bear in mind, that this is just a brief description of this novel. Moving across dreams and reality, fantasy and history, this dense novel weaves together such unlikely themes as relationships between lovers and parents; the nature of good and evil; and the quest for identity.

The images and instance in this novel are numerous and unforgettable: a woman who can kill men with the wild beauty of her dancing and menstruates flower petals; a city that's in the middle of a lagoon, and covered by blue tarps; a burial ceremony where the dead are hung upside-down on trees until they can speak their names; a herd of silver buffalo who run through the plains of Africa and North America.

The writing is lovely and lyrical. Jul 11, Anna Janelle rated it liked it. It's not often that I say this, but I was fairly confused with this read. The story begins with Marc, a man who has foresaken his village and mother upon discovering a dead body at her feet. He travels everyday to the village via boat, acting as a means of transportation for visitors to the island, never leaving the boat on these frequent trips.

When he sees a beautiful young girl who travels on his boat to the island never to come back for the return trip, he is lured off the boat to visit his It's not often that I say this, but I was fairly confused with this read. When he sees a beautiful young girl who travels on his boat to the island never to come back for the return trip, he is lured off the boat to visit his mother once again. Upon seeing her, the ghost of Banning Jainlight, the dead man at his mother's feet, returns to tell his tale.

In his account, Hitler wins the war, partly due to Jainlight's motivation. Jainlight writes of a young girl he viewed through a window, envisioning a sorrid romance that develops between the two. At night, he has vivid erotic dreams that we find out are also shared by the young girl, Marc's mother, who lives in a reality that is more common to us, a reality where Hitler is not triumphant.

These two lives and relaity operate independantly of one another, the two folding and meshing only in the coupling between Jainlight and Dania Marc's mother. It's about "the most evil man in the world," i. Hitler, who is obsessed with Jainlight's porn about Dania because in his head it's about Geli Raubal, and who ends up a sad, pathetic, senile old man. It's about Marc, the son of Hitler and Dania, or maybe Jainlight and Dania, or maybe just Dania herself or maybe he's fictional too.

All these people cross back and forth between realities, or maybe between reality and unreality, in a weird braiding of time and space. It's never clear what's real and what isn't. The most extreme example may be the silver buffalo, which you'd think pretty much have to be a metaphor since they come perpetually pouring out of a black cave and some people can't even see them, but yet they're substantial enough to trample Dania's mother to death in Africa and rampage through the streets of Davenhall Island off the coast of Washington state.

Are they the hours and minutes of one reality pouring out into another? But the book is also about love and hate and cruelty and pity and obsession and fear and loneliness and forgiveness and good and evil. I don't know what Erickson's intent was, but I ended up feeling desperately sad for every single person in this story, even crazy senile pathetic old man Hitler.

If all of this makes it sound like the book is strange and puzzling and perhaps unsettling, that's good because it is. Don't let that stop you from reading it. But don't expect a straightforward narrative: it's more like a spiral or a double helix or one of those complicated Spirograph patterns.

NB: I have to admit the metaphor of the "black clock" was entirely lost on me -- no idea what that was meant to be about. Why black? Why a clock? What is this about numbers falling? Why is Marc listening for ticking icebergs at the end?? Jun 17, Craig rated it it was amazing Shelves: hallicinatory-novels. A twilight trip to an alternative version of the 20th Century Steve Erickson claims kinship with authors Philip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon, and its easily to see why. Like those authors, he subtly twists the nature of reality and history until it resembles the inner both philosophical and psychological landscapes of his characters.

This novel is about white-haired Marc and his mother, who live on a small island in the middle of a fog-shrouded river in the Pacific Northwest. They have an estran A twilight trip to an alternative version of the 20th Century Steve Erickson claims kinship with authors Philip K. They have an estranged relationship with each other, stemming from the fact that Marc doesn't know who his father is, and his mother will not speak to him about her past.

One day, he comes home and finds her with a dead man at her feet. The image so disturbs him that he will not set foot on the island for about 20 years. He takes over the ferry that shuttles tourists back and forth. He finally goes back to the hotel where his mother lives, in search of a mysterious girl who has not stepped back onto the return ferry to the mainland, and runs into his mother. The ghost of the dead man is still at her feet, and he tells both mother and son of his strange history. Banning Jainlight was the bastard son of a farmer and his Native American slave mistress in the earlier part of the century.

He ends up burning down the farm, killing one of his half-brothers, and crippling both his father and his step-mother for the cruelty they inflicted on him. He runs away to New York City, and several years later, ends up in Vienna, Austria, where he writes pornography for a powerful client in the newly ascendant Nazi Regime. He bases his writings on the strange, surreal sexual encounters he has with a young woman who lives across the street from him. In his writings, he transforms her features and her name to resemble those of the client's -- who is, of course, Hitler -- long lost love.

Bear in mind, that this is just a brief description of this novel. Moving across dreams and reality, fantasy and history, this dense novel weaves together such unlikely themes as relationships between lovers and parents; the nature of good and evil; and the quest for identity. The images and instance in this novel are numerous and unforgettable: a woman who can kill men with the wild beauty of her dancing and menstruates flower petals; a city that's in the middle of a lagoon, and covered by blue tarps; a burial ceremony where the dead are hung upside-down on trees until they can speak their names; a herd of silver buffalo who run through the plains of Africa and North America.

The writing is lovely and lyrical.

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Jul 11, Anna Janelle rated it liked it. It's not often that I say this, but I was fairly confused with this read. The story begins with Marc, a man who has foresaken his village and mother upon discovering a dead body at her feet. He travels everyday to the village via boat, acting as a means of transportation for visitors to the island, never leaving the boat on these frequent trips.

When he sees a beautiful young girl who travels on his boat to the island never to come back for the return trip, he is lured off the boat to visit his It's not often that I say this, but I was fairly confused with this read.

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Tours of the Black Clock is the third novel by Steve Erickson, published in It has been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese. The narrative. Tours of the Black Clock book. Read 72 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Cutting a terrifying path from a Pennsylvania farm to the.

When he sees a beautiful young girl who travels on his boat to the island never to come back for the return trip, he is lured off the boat to visit his mother once again. Upon seeing her, the ghost of Banning Jainlight, the dead man at his mother's feet, returns to tell his tale. In his account, Hitler wins the war, partly due to Jainlight's motivation. Jainlight writes of a young girl he viewed through a window, envisioning a sorrid romance that develops between the two. At night, he has vivid erotic dreams that we find out are also shared by the young girl, Marc's mother, who lives in a reality that is more common to us, a reality where Hitler is not triumphant.

These two lives and relaity operate independantly of one another, the two folding and meshing only in the coupling between Jainlight and Dania Marc's mother. Marc is the result of this union. It was extremely strange reading this book. It was very dreamlike and hard to pin down. Like I said before, I'm sure that I didn't get all of the meaning on my first read, but I'm not sure that I'll commit to a second reading.

AKA - I didn't like it enough to commit myself to another try. Dec 06, Ben rated it really liked it. An extraordinary and audacious book about the nightmare of the twentieth century, a novel of stories within stories interlocked in shapes that cannot be adequately described. A meditation on the nature of fiction, history, time, and reality itself. At the center of it all is Banning Jainlight, one of the strangest, most fascinating characters in modern fiction. A hulking man capable of extreme violence, he is at times lucid, at times deranged, and narrates with a maniacal sense of humor.

Central An extraordinary and audacious book about the nightmare of the twentieth century, a novel of stories within stories interlocked in shapes that cannot be adequately described. Central to his story are the rise of fascism and the meaning of selling out. And his story is but one in a book that contains multitudes. A daring and surreal novel, astounding despite its flaws, that goes to some incredibly dark places and lingers in the mind. A winding, surreal novel where people, space, and time are fluid. It opens with a sublime section involving Marc, who becomes the boatman of a ferry between his small island home of Davenhall and the mainland.

Crossing the Rubicon: A Steve Erickson Primer

The tale of his existential tumult, featuring beautiful imagery of him crossing back-and-forth over the river in an ever-present fog, as well as a quest for a girl in a blue coat, could function as its own short story or novella. Instead, we're transported to the narrative of the main prot A winding, surreal novel where people, space, and time are fluid. Instead, we're transported to the narrative of the main protagonist, Banning Jainlight, via his ghost-voice, which engulfs Marc's story.

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Truly, meaning not in the least, and the point is just that, there is no point. Hitler, pornography, bloody icky death. And of images and nightmares, questions over answers, this novel provides many. Central An extraordinary and audacious book about the nightmare of the twentieth century, a novel of stories within stories interlocked in shapes that cannot be adequately described. I've been thinking a lot about this book recently - two months after finishing it Banning Jainlight haunts me like an unscratchable itch on a phantom limb. He made a mistake once. Hidden categories: Articles lacking sources from June All articles lacking sources.

Jainlight's story moves from his birth—and the brutal consequences when his true origin's revealed—to his writing of personalized smut for the mysterious "Client Z. This kicks off the time-splitting. Janning and Dania, as well as doppelgangers of each, swirl in and out of each other's lives, their opposing 20th centuries in a duel. There's a seemingly-ordinary-yet-possibly-mystical blueprint that may or may not offer an explanation. As the plot closes in on the present, revenge vs.

There are no easy answers. Like Marc shrouded in fog in that singular moment between the island and mainland, you have to appreciate the uncertainty, desire it. Jul 24, Jess Blevins rated it really liked it. This is an excellent example of magical realism - the relationship between Banning Jainlight, Client Z, and Dania is gripping in its intensity, and it didn't particularly bother me as the reader that there was some sort of magic involved.

I have only two complains: 1. But I'm not sure how this relates to the rest of the book, unless it's simply a continuation of the earlier theme of appearances defying reality see Banning's "bigness," which is often mistaken for stupidity. I thought the end sort of sucked. Jan 13, Charlie L rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. As this book slowed toward its end, I began to think of it as the opposite of a love note--a hate note--to Adolf Hitler.

It appeared to be the 19th century's hateful serenade to its most hate-filled citizen. Yet further than that, this turned out to be not the case. This book is far more human than that. It is just as dark, yet just as human as "the small miserable life of an old senile memoryless man" It is as dreary as it is compelling; as seductive as watching evil suffer. It is someth As this book slowed toward its end, I began to think of it as the opposite of a love note--a hate note--to Adolf Hitler.

A spectacular book. Apr 24, Sara rated it liked it Shelves: I'm a fan of Erickson's Zeroville and enjoy him much more when he's referencing film a little more directly. Here we get windows and war and large Third Man silhouettes on the streets of Vienna, but I found myself nodding off. Also, the ripple effect of men's boners on history and the fabric of space and time really doesn't interest me.

A difficult book. Fascinating, but at times hard to follow. Interesting look on the Twentieth Century and the nature and humanity of evil. The book is very much about Hitler, but the perspective is fresh. Really dug this at the time. Was this the one about Hitler's pornographer?

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Can't remember Aug 23, Jamie Grefe rated it it was amazing Shelves: literary-fiction. Probably one of the best books I've read this year or any year for that matter May 28, James Riley rated it it was ok. This is the second book in my own tour of Steve Erickson's novels. It has an original concept, and his writing style and story structuring are engaging, but grew kind of tired of the pitiable and repulsive central character and his porn fantasies and stories that supposedly create an alternate version of reality where the Germans win the war.

The main female character's main role is first as the imagined niece of Hitler reveling in her starring role in degrading porn being p Interesting. The main female character's main role is first as the imagined niece of Hitler reveling in her starring role in degrading porn being performed and written for Hitler's amusement because he's obsessed with his niece , then as a woman who is fine being repeatedly molested by an alternate reality personality the porn writer before being implanted with semen from an aged Hitler without her consent! From the rape that takes place early in the book to the end, women are not well served here, that's for sure.

I think that a sequence where the main female character starts dancing and men across Europe simultaneously drop dead is meant to show that she has power, too—but it really ends up making her seem like more of a victim. Erickson has a habit of almost saying something directly, or almost identifying someone specifically, or almost directly referring to a historical moment, and then drawing back—instead dropping tons of clues from which the reader is encouraged to infer it on their own.

My feeling is that while there is some entertainment value initially, it wears off quickly.

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Just say it! Readers also enjoyed. Literary Fiction. Speculative Fiction. About Steve Erickson. Steve Erickson. He also has written two books about American politics and popular culture, Leap Year and American Nomad. Weekly, the New York Times Magazine and other publications and journals, and his work has been widely anthologized. Books by Steve Erickson. Trivia About Tours of the Blac He lives for a long time in a prison in Italy. Eventually, he hears his stories broadcast over the radio as propaganda. He comes up with an escape plan, after finding Adolf Hitler in the same prison, now a senile old man.

Jainlight and Hitler escape to America to chase the ghost of the woman they both love. Hitler dies in New York City. Jainlight finds his way to Davenhall, where he lives for seventeen years in the hotel with Marc and Dania, trying to summon up the courage to ask for forgiveness. On the night Marc leaves town, Jainlight knows his life is slipping away, and he staggers down the hall, hoping to have time to ask Dania's forgiveness, but dies before doing so. The custom in town is to hang the dead in a tree until they say their name.

When Dania claims to know the name of the dead man in the tree, she is accused of lying.

Steve Harvey Breaks Down After Seeing His Mama's House

Somehow, the 20th century heals itself, the two timelines, the one we know, and Banning's timeline of a German victory, come back together. Dania passes away shortly after her son returns to the island. After her death, Marc goes to chase after the girl in the blue dress, and winds up traveling through time, going from the end of the century back to its beginning. The people in Steve Erickson's novel, as well as the places, do not stay in the novels in which they are written. The town of Wyndeaux, the setting for much of Erickson's first novel, Days Between Stations , reappears here.

In Amnesiascope , Erickson makes a reference to Black Clock Park, a fictional Los Angeles park where time capsules are buried from to Erickson was founding editor of the national literary journal Black Clock.