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Where there is no time, there are only absolutes. Erickson is not simplistic.

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In ''Tours of the Black Clock,'' there are two 20th centuries. The first is that of Hitler, who destroyed time because of sexual obsession. Hitler's century is ''the rule of evil'' and its ''collapse. The second is that of Albert Einstein.

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In this universe there are no absolutes; relativity or time defines all phenomena. Whereas Jainlight is the narrator, partly even the writer, of Hitler's world, the other world, the relative one, is seen through the eyes of Dania, a dancer who kills men by dancing. Dania is both actual and fantastic: she is the real Geli Raubal. And both good and evil: she is the one who transforms the evil aspect of sexual obsession, through the act of giving birth, into that which is at the heart of the world, that is, good.

Transformation is the landscape of relativity. If, formally, past and future tenses keep interrupting the story's continuing narrative, they do so because, for Mr. Erickson, time must exist. Erickson is not telling a story; he is telling a myth. A myth is history that does not exclude the realms of imagination, dreaming, desiring. A myth is history that comes from those humans who have not severed heart from brain. Erickson is a gambler, a dealer in myths, who, if he can rid himself of some slight sentimentality or sentences whose gorgeousness sometimes slips into easiness, will be one of the fabulous mythmakers who are needed in these times of the deprivation of the imagination.

Kathy Acker's most recent novel is ''Empire of the Senseless. Log In. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Atheism in Vol.

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Lazy Eye Excerpt in Nat. Ainsworth Gym in The Bad Version. Drifter Jim in The Harvard Advocate. The first part concerns Marc, the son of a woman named Dania. He becomes a boatman, ferrying tourists from the mainland to Davenhall, the small island in the river where he grew up. Marc leaves town the night he sees a strange man die at his mother's feet, and spends fifteen years on the boat, never setting foot in town, until he meets a girl in a blue dress, who never returns with the other tourists.

Tours of the Black Clock

Marc goes onto the island to look for her, and sees his mother. Their meeting conjures up the ghost of the man who died fifteen years before, and his story takes over the novel.

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The ghost tells his story in first person. His name was Banning Jainlight, and he begins by recounting his birth. He has the ability to look through the windows of his bedroom and see his time, as if looking at the Zeitgeist. After killing a brother and burning down the ranch house where he grew up, Jainlight moves to New York City, where he becomes a writer of pornographic stories.

Jainlight writes stories about a fantasy version of Dania, whom he is in love with, and the stories attract the attention of Adolf Hitler, known as Client Z. Hitler is obsessed with the new character, imagining her to be his niece and object of lust, Geli Raubal.

The stories alter the course of history, as they change Hitler's mind about how to conduct the war. England falls. Russia and Germany have a tense peace. The Germans decide that they are finished with Jainlight, and they kill his wife and daughter to silence him.