‘Confusion is the future. Embrace the confusion.’
In the not too distant future, the Twin Towers suddenly re-appear in the Dakota Badlands. People from all over the country start to gather to see them. In silence, they listen to the music that seems to come from the Towers. An aerial photograph shows an image of a man living in one of the top floors in one of the Towers. The man is Jesse Presley, the stillborn twin brother of Elvis. He has the slightest idea where he is and he is going mad because of a voice in his head that it not his, and the memory of the brother that does not exist. Elvis never born in this alternate future America. Since there is no Elvis, the America we know, the America that is found in its music, the spiritual songs that are the associated with the pain and the suffering of the slaves, the blues which are related with their freedom, does not exist anymore. Elvis was the link, a white man playing black music. Rock and roll, has no colour.
World never get to learn about Louis Armstrong, or Beatles. John Lennon becomes a lost, violent, homeless man. John Kennedy never fulfils his destiny. In this future alternate America, Kennedy is a wheel-chaired bound man that never fulfils his destiny to become president.
Shadowbahn is a road novel. It is also a novel of shadows. America is not anymore the America we know; the American dream was never realised. ‘SAVE AMERICA FROM ITSELF’, reads the bumper sticker in the red truck with the gold racing stripes…. the America,’ the dream the dreamers dreamed’ comes to bear no resemblance to itself. It is not a unified country; it is a divided country.
Steve Erickson has written an astonishing book; it takes your breath away. The reality is shadowed by alternate realities; every history has a variant alternative history. Shadowbahn is a beautiful, and intense novel that unravels the issues and the tensions that define America. It is a cry for healing and unity.