Jesse Jarnow

lewis shiner’s glimpses

“Smile, part 1 (Tim Smolen mix)” – The Beach Boys (download)

Lewis Shiner’s Glimpses — which I discovered via a review in the back pages of (I think) Guitar for the Practicing Musician — was how I first heard of the Beach Boys’ Smile, which I wouldn’t hear for another eight years after the book’s publication. Written at the tale-end of the ‘zine/cassette era, Glimpses‘ sci-fi reconstructions of lost albums comes from an age when lost albums were more rumors than downloadable fact. Shiner’s narrator, an audio repairman named Ray Shackleford, hangs out with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, but it’s his time with Brian Wilson that resonated with me most. Here, Ray arrives at Brian’s Laurel Way home in early December 1966.

The decor was schizophrenic: plaid drapes and pole lamps and heavy Spanish furniture, mixed with Lava Lites and orange-and-blue wallpaper and campy religious icons. It was all I could do not to rub the curtains between my thumb and forefinger, or pocket an ashtray for a souvenir.

Downstairs there were glass doors that led to the pool. A slide curved down to it from the roof of the house. In the steam from the pool, I smelled chlorine, perfume, cut grass. Of the four people who splashed around in the shallow end my attention went to Brian right away. First off because he was so big, six four and really starting to put on weight. There in his baggy trunks, as he straddled a child’s inflatable horse and almost sank it, he seemed larger than life.


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