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Tours of the Black Clock (1989)

by Steve Erickson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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298372,239 (3.79)33
The course of a century is rewritten in this fabulously warped odyssey, named a best book of the year by the New York Times Tours of the Black Clock is a wild dream of the twentieth century as told by the ghost of Banning Jainlight. After a disturbing family secret is unearthed, Jainlight throws his father out of a window and burns down the Pennsylvania ranch where he grew up. He escapes to Vienna where he is commissioned to write pornography for a single customer identified as "Client X," which alters the trajectory of World War II. Eventually Jainlight is accompanied by an aged and senile Adolf Hitler back to America, where both men pursue the same lover. Tours of the Black Clock is a story in which history and the laws of space and time are unforgettably transformed.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Exile by William Kotzwinkle (absurdeist)
    absurdeist: Both novels are about Los Angeles exiles operating in plausible alternate histories about Hitler and the Nazis.
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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
This is a compact book. The contents seem effortlessly written, and read like watching water flowing. There's no hardship in reading this book, apart from the contents; I won't go into details that may spoil this for you, but it's big, and I actually felt as though two books had finished by the time I was 11% into it.

The author's use of language is commendable, as it's easy to read and digest, while the characters and their inner thoughts are less palatable (to me, at least), but are so interesting, that I kept wanting more and more of the book. After half of it, interest waned, but picked up again after circa 70%.

I'll recommend this to all; it's a two-punch book, first for the use of language which I've seldom seen, and second, for the contents; the plot twists, turns, churns and is truly imaginative. Shan't say more. Go read. ( )
  pivic | Mar 20, 2020 |
Lives intersect across time and across borders against a backdrop of World War Two. Erickson conjures up a potent mix of alternative history, gritty noirish realism, and hallucinatory dislocation, but his characters frequently seem overmatched by the weightiness of the author’s themes. At times Erickson’s prose combines suspense and a kind of pleasurable derangement, with the reader as a luxuriating frog in the kettle soon-to-boil. At other times it seems as if his intent is too simple for his clever pen.

Petyr’s such an unsettling little worm that the day Kronehelm arrives I’m almost happy to see him slither in with his trunks and crates and immediately pull the curtains even tighter so that the thinnest slice of dank gray European light can come through. Kronehelm throws his arms around me and begins to cry with joy; I guess he figured I’d never really show up. After a few more days I know something’s got to give, what with three freaks waddling from one dark room to the next publishing obscene books for the private collections of deformed midgets in Berlin five hundred kilometers away. You just know that kind of enterprise is going to have one or two pressure points somewhere.

Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
4 vote MusicalGlass | Aug 3, 2010 |
Some brief remarks (not really a review):

http://www.jgoodwin.net/?p=785
1 vote joncgoodwin | May 3, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steve Ericksonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, ChristopherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The course of a century is rewritten in this fabulously warped odyssey, named a best book of the year by the New York Times Tours of the Black Clock is a wild dream of the twentieth century as told by the ghost of Banning Jainlight. After a disturbing family secret is unearthed, Jainlight throws his father out of a window and burns down the Pennsylvania ranch where he grew up. He escapes to Vienna where he is commissioned to write pornography for a single customer identified as "Client X," which alters the trajectory of World War II. Eventually Jainlight is accompanied by an aged and senile Adolf Hitler back to America, where both men pursue the same lover. Tours of the Black Clock is a story in which history and the laws of space and time are unforgettably transformed.

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