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Publisher's Summary

Named a Book You Need to Read in 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar

A “moving, astounding, and totally unsettling” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times best-selling author) literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.

Lucien moves to Los Angeles to be with his grandmother as she undergoes an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s using the new drug, Memoroxin. An emerging photographer, he’s also running from the sudden death of his mother, a well-known artist whose legacy haunts him. 

Sophie has just landed the lead in the upcoming performance of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet Company. She still waitresses at the Chateau Marmont during her off-hours, witnessing the recreational use of Memoroxin - or Mem - among the Hollywood elite. 

When Lucien and Sophie meet at The Center, founded by an ambitious yet conflicted doctor to treat patients who’ve abused Mem, they have no memory of how they got there - or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to each other. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from “before”? 

“Contemplative and wonderfully evocative, finishing The Shimmering State is like waking from a dream, where you reenter the world with fresh eyes and wonder at the frailty of your own memories” (Jessica Chiarella, author of The Lost Girls).

©2021 Meredith Westgate. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Shimmering State

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible Debut— a Must-Read.

Meredith Westgate’s incredible debut is a story I’ve been thinking about ever since I read it. So much so that I purchased the audiobook version to experience it again in a different format. The setting is so fully realized, her characters so layered and tragic. This story made me question the nature of memory, pain, grief and guilt. Does consciousness reside in our memories? The ways in which we numb our pain—is it for the high of it, to disconnect, to find the love that has left us? Or is it to punish ourselves, is it guilt that drives it?
A smart allusion to the opioid crisis and the ways in which we deal with grief, loneliness, and our need for belonging, this book with its beautiful prose and fluid, fully realized landscapes is one that I felt I inhabited as I read, and so in a way, I also lived it.

3 people found this helpful

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Horrible Main Narrator

It's not fair to say the main narrator (for Lucien) is monotone, but he's one step above robotic. There's no connection to the character or the story. He's just reciting words off the page with the barest effort at inflection. It's like listening to a high schooler forced to read in English class.

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The good and the bad

I give this book an B for a compelling storyline, strong enough to keep me engaged to a reasonably satisfying end, despite two incredibly annoying features. One, the voice of Lucien - so flat and lifeless with an extremely irritating habit of dropping the t's from words such as "tighten" or "important" so that they sound like "tigh-en", "impor-ent". Just why? Yes, there is an actual term for this trend, and it grates on the listener in about the same manner of "vocal fry". Second, the one dimensional presentation of Los Angeles is disappointing. Having lived here for 45 years, it gets old hearing about superficiality, "industry" people, beautiful people, health nuts, only certain landmarks, and so forth. This has not been my experience at all. A tiny slice of the city and it's culture is represented here, told with a rather harsh judgment.