Tuesday, 10 September 2019

REVIEW: Outside the Gates of Eden by Lewis Shiner

Outside the Gates of EdenOutside the Gates of Eden by Lewis Shiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outside the Gates of Eden is an epic, sprawling double gatefold concept album of a novel. It is a poignant and powerful swansong to the end of the twentieth century, to the demise of wide-eyed, often drug-fuelled innocence of the Summer of Love and Woodstock; an elegy to ideals and dreams lost. But through it all, like a pounding John Bonham stomp groove, the enduring power of music and love to redeem us all flows through the heart of the story.

Filled with missed opportunities and wasted time, Outside the Gates of Eden is often bleak, frequently ebullient, but always eminently readable. Shiner takes his endearing cast of characters from students wanting to change the world to retirees who, looking back with regrets at their perception of how little they have achieved, do their best to hand over some hope for the future to the next generation.

Lewis Shiner writes with incredible precision and feeling. With seeming effortlessness he captures the ecstatic joy of live performance, and the rush that comes when music and words slot together perfectly to produce something magical in song writing and recording. His passion for music oozes from every page, but above that, his compassion for the characters drives the narrative and makes the book difficult to put down.

This is one of those rare books that fills me with awe and envy in equal measure. I know I could never have written it, but still I wish I had. I loved it!


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