Blurb: It began as an experiment in college–a seemingly harmless investigation into “lucid dreaming,” the ability to control one’s dreams.
But they stayed too long on Dreamside, and now, ten years later, the dreams have returned–returned to upend their adult lives. The dreams of youth fade, if you’re lucky. If not, they can consume you . . . and will.
In Dreamside Graham Joyce perfectly captures the slow, heavy feeling of being stuck in a bad dream, unable to properly distinguish fantasy from reality, and struggling to wake up.
The plot is split between the flashbacks to the past, which delve heavily into the mechanisms and psychology of both dreaming and group dynamics; and the current action which is tense and mysterious, as the characters are haunted by their past mistakes, in dreaming and with each other.
This falls somewhere between sci-fi, magic realism, and fantasy: and due to the lack of sufficient knowledge about dream states and lucid dreaming, I would say that this is a grey area that Joyce thoroughly explores, whilst somehow leaving it as shrouded in post-wake-up fog as before.
As in other books I have read by Graham Joyce, the prose is beautiful, almost poetic, yet somehow encapsulates the mundane details of life, and the awkwardness of not-quite-connecting, not-quite-belonging. I feel that, more than the plot, it is this ethereally earthy dichotomy which draws the reader to his writing, and tempts his classification as ‘literary fiction’ in addition to the previously mentioned genres.
Dreamside is not a light, whimsical read, and certainly not an ‘easy’ one, but a thoughtful treatise on the relationships within a group, and how the different individual personalities and actions can impact on each other in unforseen, and predictable, ways.
It had been a strange night. A dervish of unfathomable, fevered images had crowded his dreams. Now they were sluicing away, as though painted on his skin. He threw on his once-white towelling robe and went into his kitchen. Somewhere a time-set radio switched itself on and a breakfast voice piped feebly. He took an egg and cracked it on a pan but it didn’t break. He tried a second time. Again it didn’t break. “Oh, no,” he said, “oh, no…” Raising the egg close to his face, he blew on it sharply.
Then he woke up.
– Graham Joyce, Dreamside