Lamp Eyes, Look Out!
Lamp Eyes, Look Out! by Peter Gelman tells the tale of an unnamed man with a unique ability to see the future. Upon losing this gift, he’s subjected to repeated bouts of unconsciousness by spinning in a centrifuge. Interestingly, he then dreams of outlandish television programs. In a last-ditch attempt to rectify his condition, a therapist arrives to help parse his strange visions.
The story starts out seemingly sci-fi comedy, focusing on a soothsayer who can only dream of sitcoms, but quickly diverges into something else. The narrator struggles with his gift, or lack thereof, and social dynamics between a small group of friends. In between the visions and attempts at romantic reconciliations, the narrator espouses his beliefs on various topics. While these discussions primarily revolve around music and Greek myth, complicated worldviews begin to push into the fore.
Therein lies the difficulty with this book. The majority of it is dedicated to expanded examinations on Beethoven and Greek myths. While it’s clear there is a point to be made, it’s not one that helps the story any. It would have been served better as a series of essays. The author is clearly knowledgeable and writes well about his obvious passions, but the story falters under the sheer weight of those passions.
The formatting also hampers the story’s impact. It’s often confusing to follow speakers and the chapter breaks further muddle the waters. Usually, chapter breaks occur after events not right in the middle of an interesting discussion. Odd punctuation usage also obscures speakers and interrupts the prose’s flow.
Interestingly, it’s not clear if the unnamed narrator actually has a gift of foresight. Most of his predictions seem to be observational, such as when he notices his interrogator has a weapon but left the magazines locked up away. The actual future predictions remain unresolved. This seems to be a choice on the author’s part, but it results in a lack of story tension. A reveal at the end explains his gift somewhat but leaves some issues in the lurch.
Lamp Eyes, Look Out! is an interesting, if confusing, read. It’s one of those novels that will challenge readers and stick with them. The concept is fascinating and Gelman’s passion shines through. The study group questions provided at the end suggest this would make an ideal choice for a book club looking for an alternative option.
|Eyebolt / Infinity
|Buy this Book