Friday, March 3, 2017

Communion was published 30 years ago last month

Author Whitley Strieber
I was living in New York City in 1987 when I first saw the hardback edition COMMUNION in bookstores. I later saw it at a co-workers apartment, and asked if he thought it was true. He pointed out that the cover featured the words “A True Story." I could tell by his voice that he was unsure what to make of it.

I flipped through it a little and wondered what it was all about. I recall being both curious and skeptical, thinking it might be a publicity stunt by a well established horror author.

I had an odd impression about the illustration on the cover. My initial reaction to that face was, “that’s not quite right.” As an illustrator, I felt like I needed to revise it, like a police sketch artist erasing and redrawing some details to better match the descriptions of a witness. This was in contrast to the consistent reports of people saying that the cover was an instantaneous trigger, as if that face was eerily familiar. Many abductees know precisely when and where they were when they first saw that image, the moment is seared into their psyche. Whitley has even wondered if the cover image was somehow meant to be a trigger of sorts, as if its placement on that cover was intentionally orchestrated by the visitors themselves.

I didn't actually read the book until the summer of 1992.

Grace Church, on the NE corner of Broadway and 10th Street
I had read Warday some years earlier, at the time I was living in the NYU dormitory across from Grace Church, one of the loveliest buildings in the city. This was the view out my dorm room window for the school year of 1981 to ’82. That church was featured in Warday, and that one detail made for a curious connection on how I would relate to Strieber's work. Years later I asked Whitley about that church, and he said he and Anne would go there for Sunday services.

I used to sleep out under the stars at a beautiful site near the Gunks, a rock climbing area near New Paltz New York. This would have been during the summers of late 80's through the early 90's. I later found out that Whitley's cabin was no more than two miles from the hidden spot where I would lie on the ground.I wrote a blog post about this, HERE.

At the time of the events documented in Communion, Whitley and Anne lived in the city on Laguardia near Houston. At that same time, my apartment was just across Houston on Sullivan between Spring and Broome. This was quite close, probably around a quarter of a mile away.

I got the book out of the Jackson Hole Library back when it was still a little log cabin, and read it in just a few days. It was a hot summer and I sat outside in the shade to read, leaning against the little trailer home I was renting. I was deeply impressed. This would have been 1992, six years after its publication. I later sent him a handwritten letter, one of nearly a quarter of a million that he received with descriptions of personal experiences.

I read Communion less than six months before waking to see five gray aliens out my bedroom window. This book and its ideas were intertwined with a sort of death and rebirth of how I saw reality. This new chapter of my life wasn’t anything I chose, it was thrust upon me. In many ways this has been a lonely journey on a dark path, yet if I had any road map at all, it was Communion.

In my years years of digging in to my own experiences, I've been reaching out and going to conferences. I've met Whitley and Anne a few times, and have spoken with them at length. This includes a few interviews, him on my show, and me on his. He has also been extremely supportive of my book.

Nick Redfern posted an excellent essay on the 30th anniversary of this important book, linked HERE.


Derek Z said...

It's been really good to see more regular activity on the blog lately Mike. Your thoughtfulness and work is really appreciated.
I very much hope to hear new audio conversations in the future!
Derek Z

Eva said...

I remember reading that book and the experiences I had during that time. Some people I have talked to says that the book can work like a trigger or "opener" to this kind of events. Well I don't know, I am just happy that my life has become much calmer.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people are crammed into that small space of land called Manhattan. But that you lived so near Whitley and Anne at that time and I did as well just really disturbs me. I just never realized that. I had a painting studio on Mercer between Spring and Prince from about 1985-89. I lived in it as well sometimes when I had nowhere else to live. I was not supposed to live there , it was in the basement of a loft building but hey, I was in my 20's. I was not an experiencer at that time and would not have known Whitleys writing. I dont think I read Communion until 2002. That would be because it would not be until 2002 that ufos entered my life. But maybe that is just when I first saw them. I wonder who else was there at that time. I dont know why this information is so disturbing!

Mike Clelland! said...

Reply to Anonymous:

Please share more. I am genuinely curious to hear about what happened in 2002. You could share her in the comments, or reach me directly. My contact info is here on the site.

For me it isn't too much of a surprise that Whitley lived so close in the city. That area was quite a hub for creative types. More distressing for me is the location where i slept out under the stars, and its proximity to their cabin.