In the waning summer days, a lake appears almost overnight in the middle of Los Angeles. Out of fear and love, a young single mother commits a desperate act: convinced that the lake means to take her small son from her, she determines to stop it and becomes the lake's Dominatrix-Oracle, "the Queen of the Zed Night." Acclaimed by many critics as Steve Erickson's greatest novel, Our Ecstatic Days takes place on the forbidden landscape of a defiant heart.
Sometimes I'm paralyzed
by my love for him. He calls me from his bed in the middle of the night and, you know, I can't resist. It's the way he calls, not sleepy or frightened or crying, but determined and aware and awake....
and I can hear the question mark so insistent it isn't a question...it would break my heart not to answer.
In my heart he opens the door to this vast terrain of fear. It's a fear stretching out beyond these young years of mine when mortality is supposed to be so inconceivable. How have mothers down through the ages survived their love for their kids? The thought of his mortality is abysmal to me....
One afternoon we were at the fair down by the lakeside, and a vendor had in captivity one of the owls that have invaded the city ever since the lake first appeared three years ago. She was explaining to some other mom's kid how, far up in the sky, the owl can hear a human heartbeat, and even at that very minute I thought to myself this owl could hear Kirk's little heart as I stood there holding him in my arms. Could it hear his heart when he was still inside me three years ago? Was that my first betrayal of my boy -- his birth, exposing him to the peril of owls that hear heartbeats? Every night I wait for the sun to set before writing this, there it goes now, slipping down
behind the San Vicente Bridge that
crosses the lake to the northwest, I see it from my window...sun goes down, sky goes dark, lake goes black, and owls swoop across the rising moon like leaves blown loose from some phantasmagoric tree twisting up out of the ground
and my voice rises from the crypt of my consciousness shaking words off like topsoil. Kirk and I are bonded by a cord of blood that runs from his heart to my thighs. Menstrual waves crash against the inner beach of my belly.
Steve Erickson is the author of six other acclaimed novels -- including Days Between Stations and Tours of the Black Clock -- as well as two books about American politics and popular culture. The editor of the literary magazine Black Clock, he also writes about film for Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts.
"Huge scope...invention, feeling and humor...with love as an abyss of motion, terror, ecstasy. The richest of Erickson's visions to date."
-- Joseph McElroy, The Believer
"Erickson and his latest novel are clearly sui generis. Our Ecstatic Days is an extravagant, outsized accomplishment...in which chaos almost -- but never quite -- wins, in which primal human connections keep us going in the face of catastrophic loss. A baroque, visionary novel rooted in fundamental truths."
-- Bill Sheehan, The Washington Post Book World
"Our Ecstatic Days may be a great one."
-- David Bowman, Bookforum
"There's no one in the world writing like Steve Erickson."
-- Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review