Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown: 560 pp., $27.99
Marcel Proust, the great author of memory, gets a swift kick in the pants in Dan Simmons' latest novel of an apocalyptic future, "Flashback." Remember all that stuff Proust wrote about memories returning to him with the taste of a madeleine cookie? For Simmons, memories can be summoned and controlled far more easily, and reliably, with a few snorts of a drug called flashback.
In this novel, most Americans — about 85% — are hooked on flashback, preferring to spend their days in soiled clothes on grimy cots, reliving the cozy past rather than facing a chaotic...