Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review: "The Somnambulist's Dreams" by Lars Boye Jerlach

Wow, this book was one crazy ride!!

How crazy have your dreams gotten? I'm not one of those who tries to figure out what my dreams mean, but I have wondered if it's appropriate to get mad at a person for doing something to you in your dreams. (I told a friend I was angry with them for borrowing my car and then parking it in my refrigerator. This is why I don't try to interpret my dreams.)

"I have finally decided to write to you about my dreams, and trust that you will recognize and know the true me and not be abhorred by the fantasies of my mind, over which I have no control. I am, as far as I know, compos mentis and yet I cannot explain, even to myself, where the figments originate. Beside their esotericism, I do not know if there is any other significance to them."

One day, a lighthouse keeper who lived in a lighthouse off the New England coast found a collection of writings from his predecessor. He discovers these writings are recollections of dreams his predecessor had while working at the lighthouse, which he has shared with his wife. But these are no ordinary dreams. Each dream is stranger and more confusing than the next, yet they seemed very real to the man experiencing them.

"The dreams have always been the same, and despite some slight variations, they have not changed for as long as I can remember. I have attempted to name the places that I visit, though without proper research, I cannot be sure if they hold true. I have not ordered or dated the dreams, as it seems that there is no beginning or end to them. They flow into one another, like a stroke from a painter's brush, to form one complete but enigmatic picture."

Given the solitary nature of the lighthouse keeper's job, the man becomes utterly transfixed at reading his predecessor's dreams. He, too, wonders what the dreams signify, and whether anything similar will happen to him, as a result of having only his light for company.

This book is truly a creative, almost phantasmagorical adventure. Lars Boye Jerlach imbues his story with such fantastical details, lyrical language (complete with words I had to look up), and evocative imagery, and he makes the tale utterly compelling, because you find yourself needing to know what the dreams mean, and what happened to the man who wrote about them. The dreams meld fantasy and reality, past and future, elements from literature, music, and film, with some common elements woven through.

The Somnambulist's Dreams is such a unique experience, one I don't think I'll forget anytime soon. It doesn't quite follow a particular narrative thread, and it may leave you guessing, but it's pretty wild, and I thought it was great. If this sounds like it's up your alley, definitely give this a shot.

The author provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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