...and I only mentioned one headless corpse and a colon full of action figures.
Read my guest post on focus at Frankie Blooding's blog
and then check out her work at smblooding.com
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Review generated by Wise Bear Books
Lost in Infinity has moments of brilliance punctuated by sheer frustration. The book's lengthy summary does its best to simultaneously attract and deter all but serious readers. Clearly, this novel isn't for everyone as it's an exercise in patience, wading through the unconventional structure and repetitious literary progression. However, there's a method to Besecker's madness as the concept of déjà vu is a key theme and plot device.
Travis suffers from chronic insomnia, which brings the added bonus of a variety of other emotional and social debilitating behaviors and phobias including a fear of infinity, or apeiraphobia in psychiatric terms. We've all experienced occasional restless nights of sleep, and you might think you understand what it means to be an insomniac; but the severity and ultimate consequences of not being able to sleep for days, weeks, or even months until your body literally shuts down, is inconceivable.
Diagnosed at the age of seven, Travis has had to cope with his condition for nearly three decades. It's impossible not to feel tremendous compassion for this young boy who copes by sneaking 20-minute cat naps several times a day and then must endure the nightly terror of a shadow presence who only serves to ratchet up Travis's fear of vast nothingness.Travis's condition is exacerbated by his genius-level intellect, which causes him to question, protest and defy anyone he believes intellectually incompetent. There is a fine line between madness and brilliance, and Travis is a ticking time bomb.
It takes years for Travis's concerned parents to understand the severity of their son’s condition, but eventually he connects with Katherine, a psychiatrist who manages to bear up fairly well under Travis's constant challenging behavior. Each chapter begins with a small glimpse into their sessions together. Katherine has given Travis a red spiral notebook for journaling, which she reviews at the beginning of each of their sessions. The problem—Travis is neither cooperative nor forthcoming in their exploratory work together.
Travis's highly-gifted intellect eventually propels him into a variety of creative career fields with reasonable success. He is married and father to two boys who seem to have elements of his own condition. It's important to note that while other characters exist in this book, they are mostly referential in nature, as the spotlight is always squarely on Travis and his delicate psyche.
As an adult, he seems to have managed his condition quite well. At 30, his life begins to spiral out of control into a tornado of depression and self-destructive behavior. Travis is on the verge of a psychotic break, which is a crucial element to revealing the story's ending.
In general, the novel reads like a memoir until you get 90% through—that's when the plot twists kick in, leaving no doubt about the fictional fusion with the author's reality. The debatable creation of the book's content made for lively discussion amongst our collaborative review team. How much of the content is autobiographical? Could or does this really happen to genius-level insomniacs? We can't offer any definitive answers, but you can be sure this story is truly thought provoking.
Lost in Infinity has a lot of good things working for it. The story is unique and evokes a broad range of emotions and lasting reactions from readers. It's easy to get invested in Travis's dilemma and hard to forget the psychological impact of the story.
You'll want to help fix this poor kid's circumstances, but Lost in Infinity is not that kind of novel. Readers will be pushed to confront many of their own black fantasies in the context of the novel's circular time looping quality.
Stylistically, Lost in Infinity is a wonderful avant-garde achievement. Although plot and time lines may shift in confusing and unexpected ways, the abrupt nature of the structure is merely echoing the conflict within Travis. The real triumph of this book is that readers will actually share in the frustration of fictional Travis as Besecker's writing immerses readers into this fascinating yet uncomfortable story.
The all-important title and cover are outstanding. The front cover concept is based on Travis's red spiral journaling notebook with terrified drawings of his shadowy tormentor. Too often, book covers don't reflect the essence of the author's story, but Besecker's cover and title work in perfect partnership with book's plot as well as its summary.
The book has a Stephen King-esque feel about it. Like King, Besecker is clearly a lover of psychological terror. The only thing missing from this book is some blood and gore and then you'd have a full blown horror novel.
Our only minor dissatisfaction comes from the story's ending, or lack thereof, as it seemed contrary to the course and direction of the first 90% of the book. The final twist abruptly moves the story out of its sweet spot, the concept of infinite nothingness, into an explanation that felt a little forced and random. We get what the author was going for or maybe we were just waiting and hoping for a good old slasher scene, but the conclusion didn't resonate with us as much as we'd hoped. That said, the final twist didn't dislodge our overall praise for this innovative literary work. And we love that the author wisely fictionalized his personal struggles rather than trying to write a memoir and have readers call into question so many of the surreal details of being a chronic insomniac.
Lost in Infinity has moments of brilliance punctuated by sheer frustration. The book's lengthy summary does its best to simultaneously attract and deter all but serious readers. Clearly, this novel isn't for everyone as it's an exercise in patience, wading through the unconventional structure and repetitious literary progression. However, there's a method to Besecker's madness as the concept of déjà vu is a key theme and plot device . . . Oops, there's that circular time loop we were talking about . . . in truth the book's summary says it best, "This book is not for everyone." But if you’re a fan of psychological dramas laced with elements of terror in the vein of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, and Kurt Vonnegut, then Lost in Infinity is a must-read for you.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
'Lost in Infinity' was named a Wise Bear Digital Book Awards 2013 Finalist. The final award decisions will be announced in the next couple of weeks.