Did I really read that book?

A while back I read The Good Soldier.  As I did, I kept having the feeling that I had read it already.  But this was never more than an occasional niggling at the back of my mind — a scene, a character would seem vaguely familiar, but then for long stretches the feeling would disappear.

Maybe I did read The Good Soldier, and its memory simply disintegrated in my brain over the years.  I didn’t like it this time around, and it’s unlikely to have made much of an impression on me in high school or college, when I was vacuuming up novels daily.  But it’s also possible that I didn’t in fact read it — that the scenes and characters just reminded me of something else, also now lost.  Beats me.  Memory, modern science tells us, is fragile and unreliable.  We don’t know what we think we know.  (This recent Radiolab podcast tells the story of a woman who confidently identifies the man who had brutally raped her, only to find out years later that she had been mistaken.)

All of this is by way of an introduction to the following lovely review of The Distance Beacons from a very perceptive reader named D. Jensen:

What I can’t believe is that no one else has reviewed this book. Perhaps it is because this is the second (and hopefully not the last) that Bowker has offered us.
It has been a long, long time since I read this book, but I do remember it as a better than “a good ‘un”.

Walter Sands, the only P.I. in a post-apocalyptic (no longer United) States is asked to search for a rebel organization that is threatening to assassinate the President when she comes to Boston to campaign in favor of the New England states to rejoin the union.
Along with his friends and roommates, Walter uncovers much more than he or his employer expect.

Another great read from Bowker. I think that I like it that he never really describes the nuclear war that created this future mish-mash country. It was what it was and now the survivors are just trying to rebuild their lives and perhaps a country that may or may not resemble the earlier version. There is no sweeping view of this time; there is just the observations of the people “on the ground” so to speak. Bowker knows how to keep the characters relevant and relate-able and how to build the tension in the story to keep the reader turning pages–or flipping screens.

Worth the time where so many are not.

It’s all so very true!  Except for the part where he (she?) says “It’s been a long, long time since I read this book.”  As I may have mentioned here, The Distance Beacons was written a while ago (with a different title), but it ended up in a carton in my basement after Bantam declined to print a sequel to Dover Beach.  No more than half a dozen people read it back then, and it’s only the e-book revolution that has allowed it to see the light of day now.  D. Jensen is having a Good Soldier moment.

Unless, you know, my memory is playing tricks on me.

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2 thoughts on “Did I really read that book?

  1. Wasn’t THE DISTANCE BEACONS published in Japan? Under another title of course. Or am I thinking of another of your books? If the above reviewer read Japanese …

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