Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Whitley Strieber: Crazy Kook or Publishing Genius?

I finished Whitley Strieber's Transformation: The Breakthrough last night. It certainly has its cheesy moments, but its good ones as well.

What's really startling to me is that it was NY Times bestseller (as was the prequel Communion) and that people took these books for fact. For those unfamiliar, the books tell a "true" story about a series of alien abductions the author went through. The prequel was also made into a really awful movie starring Christopher Walken. I remember seeing it with a friend of mine in high school who believed it all. He got very angry at me for laughing at the aliens that looked like a costume you'd see at Kings Dominion.

For fact, the books are structured a hell of a lot like horror novels. Not surprising, I guess, since Strieber put out two horror novels before getting into the alien abduction game. The alien stuff is subtle at first: lights in the sky, strange poundings on the roof of the house. But it gradually builds, and as it builds Strieber questions what's real, what's not. This second book focused on trying to discover a purpose behind the alien's actions. In his desperation for meaning, theories range from brutal experimentation to helping us up the next step up the evolutionary ladder. A lot of the more bizarre scenes remind me a lot of Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan series, a very magical/new age set of books that were highly popular in the 60's and also sold as fact.

So in reading this, I have to wonder. Strieber is (was) either totally off his rocker and believed all this stuff really happened to him, or he found a wonderful niche for himself and discovered a way to spin these ideas out into a flashpoint of high success for an author. Castaneda finally confessed his books were fiction days before he died; perhaps the same will happen with Strieber.


1 comment:

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Interesting. I wonder which it is -- that he's off his rocker and convinced, or laughing all the way to the bank?