Lewis Shiner is a writer that I have always admired. I’ve loved all his fiction that I’ve ever read. Deserted Cities of the Heart, great novel. Glimpses, freaking fabulous novel. His short story about Tesla, “White City”, is one of the more haunting bits of fiction I’ve ever read. In one of my gigs as science fiction man about town, I hosted the very last Event Horizon chat for Ellen Datlow, and Lewis was the guest. It was ill attended, only four of us, I think, and mostly we talked about his then current novel Say Goodbye. It was completely non-genre, a rock and roll story of a young singer-songwriter who moves to LA, makes a little bit of a go of it, and gets ground up by the pretty machine. This story is eerily similar to that of so many people, some I know personally and some that I know of, whose shot at fame with the music business turns out to be not much fun and leaves them scarred forever
On his site are some autobiographical notes. His is a story of the kind that isn’t much fun. He points out the tale of Laurie Moss in the aforementioned novel is really an allegory of his career as a writer, switching the whole thing to music to avoid seeming so self-indulgent. Achieve some little success, try to make this your living, fail, either keep trying or give up but never acheive that moment in the sun again. I find that very sad, because I enjoy his work. What little contact I had with him – one phone call, an online chat and a few emails after that – left me with the thought that I’d like him if I got to know him, and that he contains a deep well of sadness.
What brought him back to the forefront of my attention was idly noticing that Say Goodbye is available in an electronic edition from Fictionwise. They are slowly building up a good collection of reasonably priced and high quality ebooks. This one is a really good one, and I recommend it highly. I pimped it as hard as I could when it was on the shelf years ago, and now that the paper is out of print I pimp the elctronic version. If you have any interest in stories of the music business, of rock and roll novels, or of melancholy tales of reaching for your dreams, get this one. I guarantee you will like it.