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Alex Shakar Reads From Acclaimed New Novel "Luminarium" This Week at The Booksmith

The effusive mainstream reviews—from the likes of Dave Eggers and The New York Times—for Alex Shakar’s second novel Luminarium might put off the very audience who would appreciate it the most. Can a book blessed by the highest echelons of the literary establishment really be that good? Yes, it can. A dense, lyrical speculative novel, Luminarium explores the intersection of technology and spirituality in a riveting story that’s as much about the bond between brothers as it is about virtual worlds and Hindu cosmology.
 
Fred Brounian, co-founder of a virtual reality simulator that has been co-opted by the “military entertainment complex,” finds himself having a crisis of faith as his twin brother George slides deep into a coma. When Fred enrolls in a scientific study that aims to replicate states of spiritual ecstasy through re-patterning brain waves, he starts receiving e-mails from his limbo-bound brother. Fred’s search for what’s really happening with George has more in common with the quests of the protagonists of Hermann Hesse than they do those of William Gibson.
 
Shakar’s first novel, The Savage Girl, was published on September 18, 2001, a mere week after the events of 9/11. (His personal essay on the following weeks is a great read.) Luminarium is set in NYC five years later, but the temptation to read it as a commentary on 9/11 should be resisted. Or should it? Ask the author yourself when he reads from Luminarium next week in San Francisco and Marin. 
 
Wednesday, Sept. 21 , 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)
Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (59 Tamal Vista Blvd.)