“If you read one philosophical-doomsday kinky-sex road-trip novel this year, make it this one.” —Salon
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999, and the members of a powerful cult are about to commit ritual suicide. Fleeing their ranks at the final moment, teenager Kristin lands in Tokyo, where she gains employment listening to clients’ stories in a “memory hotel” designed to address the decay of Japanese collective memory after the Second World War. But Kristin herself has a startling odyssey: Among other things, it involves answering a personal ad only to wind up imprisoned, naked, in an empty house presided over by a man known as the Occupant, hard at work on a millennial calendar that has serious implications for the future. The Sea Came in at Midnight is a breathtaking fable of redemption and one of Erickson’s most impressive visions to date.
Strip clubs, sexual slavery, Paris dreams, New York horror and California misery catastrophically define and entrap the troubled margin-dwellers inhabiting this penetrating dream vision of the post-nuclear world. At the center is Kristin, who escapes her fate as the last of 2000 women and children sacrificed in a millennialist cult ritual only to become the sex slave of a self-proclaimed "apocalyptologist" she knows only as the Occupant. The Occupant is obsessed with mapping out the world's increasingly bizarre eruptions of violence--many of which have shaped and twisted his own life--on an unconventional calendar that soon has Kristin at its epicenter. Another agitated, tormented character is Louise Blumenthal, aka Lulu Blu, the screenwriter of the world's first snuff film, a hoax that subsequently spawned actual murders. Louise seeks to absolve herself of her crimes by trying to save future snuff actresses and ritualistically vandalizing satellite dishes in L.A. Erickson (Days Between Stations; Amnesiascope) sends his agile prose careening ever deeper into these intertwined lives, their disturbing memories and often tragic choices following a kind of grim logic. This provocative novel is often funny but always serious and lush with insights that make its often outlandish elements eerily familiar. The razor-sharp narrative balances a nonchalant chaos with an unrelenting stream of violence and tenderness; even the most monstrous psyche in Erickson's ensemble of stoic na fs, murderous sadists and the sexually plundered is brilliantly rendered as not only sympathetic, but honest, vigorous and enduring.