Audiobook Review: Glimpses by Lewis Shiner

30 08 2011

Glimpses by Lewis Shriner

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Skyboat Media

Genre: Rock and Roll Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Lewis’s tales of a time bending rock fan gives us an intimate look at rock legends as well as a realistic portrayal of a middle aged man whose faith in rock and roll to change the world is put to the ultimate challenge.

Grade: B+

There is a sort of almost religious metaphysical state of being that overcomes certain people when talking about music. I was never one of those music guys like that. Oh, I love music, and faithfully follow an eclectic group of musicians, most of whom I have been fans of since my high school and college days. But I don’t worship them. Maybe it’s because I have no musical talent of my own. I will never really understand the high that is performing before a crowd, or even in you own basement. The closest I ever got to being a musician was the years early in my life that I spent working sound for my church, and college, and doing some DJing. Working with some musicians over the years, I see how some would reach this almost transcendence state when performing. For me, sure, I had a few moments at concerts where I was emotionally affected, perhaps even moved, but it was short lived. Lewis Shiner’s Glimpses is a novel written for the truest of music guys. Those that believe that music is more than just an enjoyable art form, but something that has the power to change people at a fundamental level, to perhaps even change the world.

Glimpses is the tale of Ray Shackleford, a middle aged man stuck in a dying marriage and just unhappy in life. Ray looks back at his life to the days of his youth, when he was in a band, and music really meant something. Ray becomes obsessed over the Beatles, remembering not just the greatness they achieved but the potential they had for even greater things, if they didn’t allow corporate entities to take advantage of them. As Ray fantasizes about a recording session that could have been, the music on his stereo begins to reflect the changes. This begins a tale that takes us on an intimate tour of rock and roll history as well as the midlife crisis of an unhappy man dwelling on his recently deceased father. It’s easy to write Glimpses off as a rock and roll fantasy novel. I grew up in the era of U2 and Nirvana, with my musical obsessions being far from the mainstream, yet despite the generational difference I was amazed by the amount of love and detail Shiner presented his rock and roll idols with. He humanizes rock legends like  Brian Wilson and Jimi Hendricks in a way I have never seen before, giving them such depth of character that even someone like me, who admires their work but was never truly a fan, is easily pulled into the tale. Yet, despite their importance to the overall story, this is Ray’s tale, and Shiner gives us an honest, unapologetic look at a man disappointed by his dreams. It is hard not to feel for Ray, while at the same time being frustrated by his passive aggressive attitude and penchant for blaming others for his faults. Shiner’s Glimpses comes together well as Ray attempts to deal with his life changes as well as his fantasies about the powers of rock and roll. 

You can truly feel the passion for the material in narrator Stefan Rudnicki’s performance of Glimpses. Rudnicki’s iconic deep bass voice perfectly fits main character Ray Shackleford, yet where he truly excels is in his ability to give a full range of performances, including iconic rock stars, and complicated women. Rudnicki totally brings this tale to life for the listener, giving a no holds barred performance, which truly allows us to see Ray for what he truly is, a deeply flawed man who is earnestly trying to understand his deficiencies, while taking on an incredible task. Fans of Woodstock Era rock will delight in this audiobook and for the rest of us born just a bit after the age of peace and love, well, there is plenty here for us as well.



2 responses

6 09 2011
Ray Shackleford

This is one of my favorite books of all time. My online handle is from this book and I can’t believe it hasn’t been made into a movie yet!

18 09 2012
The Literary Horizon: Glimpses « The Literary Omnivore

[…] The proprietor of The Guilded Earlobe enjoyed it, despite not having any personal connection to the music covered, proving it can work on its own. Kirkus Reviews finds it authentic, if a bit transparent in its target audience. J. Stephen Bolhafner, writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, found it satisfying, although he sounds very dismissive of its speculative elements. Publishers Weekly very much enjoyed it, especially its emotional content. […]

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