A pseudo-memoir written from the perspective of an insomniac with apeirophobia (fear of infinity) as he searches for the meaning of life, his psychosis and the root of his inner turmoil. The novel is part social commentary, part psychological mystery and part diary. What begins as an egotistical journal from an overconfident, yet anti-social blogger slowly dissolves into the twisted chaos of a mind on the brink of collapse. The reader is slowly forced to decide if the book is a cry for help from a man attempting to rationalize his schizophrenia or a clever ruse to make them stop and contemplate the meaning of existence.
'Lost in Infinity' is a novel that many readers will find hard to define. In fact, it's much easier to list what it is most definitely not, than what it really is. It's not necessarily a tale of suspense or a thriller. It's not a mystery by normal standards. It's not inspirational, romantic or full of laughs. Depending upon your perspective and final take on the tale, it's not even entirely fiction.
This book is not for everyone. 'Lost in Infinity' is a novel intended for a very specific audience…
The author would have you believe this is a "psychological roller coaster wrapped in the factual memoir of a chronic insomniac suffering from apeirophobia (the fear of infinity)." He would go on to explain that the "novel unfolds the history of his life as he tries to unlock repressed memories through a near schizophrenic relationship with his own splintered subconscious." This is a clever ruse to suck in his niche reader. This book is not for everyone.
Influenced by Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut and Carlton Mellick III, the novel offers a unique look into the private confessions of a self-absorbed blogger on the precipice of a mental breakdown. The recurring theme of déjà vu leads the reader through the work giving glimpses of a dark past while offering anecdotes that will eerily relate to most readers. Mixing in humor and satire with a confused childhood spent under the microscope of therapists keeps the mood light while he digs deeper into his past looking for the root of his problems. The narrator pulls back the curtain and reveals his dark inner turmoil as he fears a slow deliberate path toward schizophrenia. A repetition of events and recollections leads the reader through the twisted break the author fears while touching on life's everyday issues and questions. He delves into sleepless nights, stress, relationships and the pitfalls of higher education while he openly offers opinions on religion, suicide, insomnia, depression and the meaning of life.
Many casual readers will be turned off by the jumping timeline. Some will be confused by the author's back and forth focus on his missing memories. The first person pseudo-oral narrative will leave others simply frustrated. The rest will grow sick of the author's defense mechanisms, most often hiding behind his pretentious recollections of growing up a childhood 'genius'. This book is not for everyone.
Now that you've been properly warned and many have moved on to their next light read…
'Lost in Infinity' is part social commentary, part psychological mystery and part diary. What begins as an egotistical journal from an overconfident, yet anti-social, bratty blogger slowly dissolves into the twisted chaos of a mind on the brink of collapse. The reader is eventually forced to decide if the book is a cry for help from a man attempting to rationalize his schizophrenia or a clever ruse to make them stop and contemplate the meaning of existence. 'Lost in Infinity' will leave the reader questioning everything they thought they knew about the author's sanity, about their own life, about existence and the infinite universe beyond.
The rain tickled my window with a lullaby of sand and tin as the darkness that engulfed the house crept down the hallway and invaded my room. The light from the street lamp shining through my bedroom window was momentarily enraged, flooding the room in a bright explosion of white. My pupils narrowed, leaving the room black once again. Slowly the street lamp beyond began to return to its full luminosity as the hint of a rumble erupted overhead. The thunder built to a crescendo, rolling over the house with such force that my window rattled in its frame. The street lamp, irritated by the flash of light, slowly acclimated back to the dark of night, returning the spilled light to the back wall of my room before the next flash of lightning was able to recycle the process all over again.
My pupils dilated and the shadow behind my dresser came
into focus once again. My soccer trophy stretched out along the wood paneling turning a plated plastic bicycle kick into an elongated triceratops holding a zeppelin. I focused my thoughts on the shadow, imagining why a dinosaur would ever need an airship, when the shadow shifted. The triceratops turned its head to look at me. I looked back at the trophy confused and the shadow turned away. My gaze returned to the zeppelin and another shadow grew in the corner near my closet door. I looked directly at the shadow. It looked back. Another flash of lightning and my room was reset.
The shadow returned with the onslaught of my focus. This time, as I stared at the shadow, a face appeared in my doorway, sneaking around the corner of the dark oak frame. I sat up in bed and whipped my head in its direction. Gone. Out of the corner of my peripheral vision appeared another face. I turned my head slowly and it disappeared just the same. The faces would never allow me to see them directly. They were always there and always gone. The shadow creatures watched from just beyond the attention of my eyes. They would hide within the darkness, out of sight but close enough they were not afraid to be seen. Another flash of lightning and my room was reset.
The looming face in the corner stared back at me through black eyes. I ignored the shy faces watching and waiting behind furniture and around corners so that I could peer into the deep black that was The Shadow Man. He blinked and the black was gone. Sheer terror washed over me as the movement took root in my brain. A scream escaped my lungs and pierced the 3am silence. Until this moment my mind was so lost in curiosity that I had rationalized the faces and The Shadow Man as tricks of light. They were more interesting than frightening. Interesting shadows did not blink...
What is deja vu? In French it literally means, "already seen". Emile Boirac, a French psychic researcher, coined the term. Déjà vu is the feeling that one has already seen or experienced the current situation before, even though the circumstances may be vague, unclear or uncertain. It's the feeling of "I've been here and done this before." The feeling can accompany something as simple as watching a car pass or bending over to pick up a piece of paper. It can be as unnerving as knowing every word of a conversation before it is spoken... or at least feeling as if you do. The most frequent explanation is that the experience did happen before. Picking up a piece of paper seems so random that believing it has happened before may be a simple coincidence. Another plausible explanation is that
the feeling is caused by a breakdown in the neurological system. Imagine the systems responsible for short and long term memory misfiring or firing nanoseconds apart. The result is a memory planted in the psyche before the conscious part of the brain ever receives the information and processes it, giving the illusion of past experience.
I've felt deja vu on a daily basis since I was a child. Whether I’m brushing my teeth or looking down and noticing the cracks in the sidewalk passing by underfoot, as soon as the feeling overcomes me, my heart starts to race. At first I found it exciting. I wondered if there was some hidden talent that I possessed but was yet unable to hone... Or maybe it was hereditary. One day a great grandparent would approach me with the inevitable speech about great responsibility and our secret Native American ancestry... My brain always finds the most outlandish and impossible explanations. It's in my nature. I've always had a wild imagination.
Precognition may not be a viable theory, but it was for a long time the most entertaining. Whenever the feeling of deja vu struck me, I would imagine the moment in time as a request for assistance by the forces of fate. My brain was being triggered for a greater good, making me notice something small in that instance and giving me the
opportunity to change my path or make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. I'd roll the dice and turn up four sixes and a two in the middle of a game of Yahtzee and get the feeling of deja vu... instead of re-rolling the two and going for a signature “Yahtzee!”, I'd scoop up the sixes and re-roll the four-of-a-kind for more twos. I'd smile and block out the catcalls from my competitors letting me know how stupid I was because deep down inside I knew that with that shake and toss of those four dice, came a change in our timeline and the path of the world around me. I was saving a life or righting a wrong.
Chaos theory and the Butterfly effect became obsessions as a result of my fascination with déjà vu. I began to wonder what good I was doing by each and every action. I began to worry what wrong I was causing with them as well. The worry started to affect my ability to make quick and intelligent decisions. Double and triple guessing each action and choice to see if a double negative would somehow correct the possibility of a mudslide in Rio de Janeiro or a piano falling on a woman pushing her baby in a buggy in Paris...
Time travel fascinated me. From H.G. Wells to Carl Sagan, I wanted to know everything about it. Wormholes, black holes, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the space-time
continuum... I ventured into every aspect of its possibilities. I even went as far as creating markers in time for future time travelers to be able to use as calibration points for their eventual time traveling devices. I waited and wondered. I knew that one day, when I stood in the street looking up at the sky with my sign clearly marking the time and date down to the second that a traveler from the future would magically appear before me with a thank you and a pat on the head. When that moment never arrived, I began to speculate about what that meant. Time was a construct created as a crutch to put boundaries on the things our young minds were unable to comprehend. Time was irrelevant. If time was irrelevant, what else had no point or meaning? Religion? Life? Death? Why are we here? Where is here? What is the meaning of life?
All before I was seven. This is just a glimpse at how my mind works. I stop, I think, I worry. Repeat.
If I’m not worrying about decisions or consequences, I’m questioning the validity of the actions and reactions. Accepting the truths of others leaves no room for the possibility of enlightenment that comes from an answer for
which the question was never asked. I ask a lot of questions. It’s my nature. I’ve always had a wild imagination.
What is déjà vu? What does it mean to you? By the time you finish this book, your answer may change.
“Why are you here?” I whispered.
The Shadow Man blinked and goose bumps ran from my wrists to my spine. I pulled the covers tighter and sunk deeper into my pillow. Silence filled my room then gave way to my labored breathing followed by the shock of another distant roll of thunder.
Enjoy the show.
Despite feeling myself being pulled too deep into the novel, I refused to pull away and set the book down. I had to finish it. I had to know the secret. It took me all of 14 hours to finish the book, including the few hours I was able to sleep (if you can even really call it that). I was living this with Travis. I was in the novel, and it was me, and I was trapped and needed to know. I needed to get to the secret. It made me look into my own childhood, and my obsessions with space, time, infinity, and the frustration I've always felt by not grasping what it all means. You start questioning yourself. Your memories. Your actions. What's the point? I'm completely haunted by the tale Travis so beautifully laid out. I will keep re-reading this book until it is seared into my brain, and I will recommend it to anyone within earshot. Read. This. Book. Discover the secret for yourself, both within the book and within yourself.
- Katrina (Amazon)
I read therefore I write
On average, how much would you say you sleep? Have you ever really thought about it? If you suffer from chronic insomnia like Travis Besecker, you have.
On your sleepless nights, what keeps you awake? Worries about money, or how you could have handled a previous interaction better? Is it ever a fear of infinity, and the vast nothingness that surrounds us and looks down from the night sky? If you suffer from apeirophobia like Travis Besecker, it is.
Besecker’s new novel, Lost in Infinity is a chronicle of his life-long battle with insomnia and the ugly, and often times, dangerous side effects that can occur due to extreme sleep deprivation. He tells his story of pain, frustration, and fear of the unknown. His tale is sad, funny, extremely moving, and also, at times, deeply unsettling. Besecker is a person that almost everyone can relate to, in one way or another, which makes his story all the more powerful.
Lost in Infinity follows Travis Besecker on a sometimes sporadic timeline from early childhood to the present as he deals with his inability to “sleep like a normal kid,” and his boundless fear. Besecker’s journey takes us to him as a small boy, sitting in the visiting area of a mental institution reminiscent of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and to the night more than 20 years in the future, when he slams his car into a guardrail after falling asleep at the wheel. He tells of his well-meaning parents who tried to help a child they loved but didn’t understand. He explains his constant need to be involved in numerous projects and his fight to succeed at everything he does as an attempt to silence the Shadow Man.
I received and read Lost in Infinity in the same day. That was in part due to the fact that I had agreed to write this review when I was finished with the novel; I don’t like to keep people waiting. But mostly, it was due to the fact that I absolutely couldn’t put the book down.
I don’t want to give away the story of Besecker’s trials but I will give my reaction to it:
My arms were covered in goose bumps for the duration of the first two chapters, a feeling I described as finding Besecker “eerily relatable.” There were so many ways in which I felt a kinship to this person I was reading about. My mind raced with every passing page and my heart pounded with emotion. There was more than one moment where I wanted to hug this scared and frustrated little boy. Two-thirds of the way into Besecker’s work, I realized there were probably 20 different ways his story could end, and no matter what path the novel took, I knew it would be the right one. I don’t think I have ever been so confident of a novel’s genuine goodness since I began reading them at age 7. Lost in Infinity is a book that I will be returning to for another read many, many more times to come.
Gets in Your Head
No really. The sense of deja vu will get under your skin and drag you deeper into the story than you are probably comfortable with. As you read explanations of events that are happening, you will share in the main character's confusion at your ability to see things yet to come. A good book can make you laugh out loud or cry unashamedly, but 'Lost in Infinity' did so much more than that. It made me itchy inside my own skin with a kind of secondhand dread. I love this book, and can't wait to see what else Mr. Besecker has in store!