Monday, May 26, 2003

Halfway through The Marriage of Sticks, I was ready to write a paean of praise for Jonathan Carroll. Then I finished it. I can't say that it was bad, exactly, because I did enjoy it, but the direction in which I thought it was going was so much more fascinating than the direction in which it actually went. Carroll raised the idea of a person who completely screws with destiny by making choices other than her predestination. While this is not a concept I believe in, it was very interesting and I would have liked to see where it could go. Instead the plot took a nosedive and ended with a conclusion that didn't make any sense, seemed like a cop-out, and was frankly boring.

But this is not to discourage you from reading Jonathan Carroll's works. Sleeping in Flame has been on our bookshelf for quite some time, but for a long time I didn't read it because I had it confused with a travel book (for no apparent reason). Finally one day there was nothing else to read, so I picked it up, and, once I started, couldn't stop. It's a deft re-telling of "Rumpelstiltskin", complete with Carroll's interest in reincarnation, weird careers (I want a job in his world), and Vienna.

Then I read Bones of the Moon, which connects nicely with Sleeping in Flame, following a woman's adventures through her dreams, which turn out to be much more real than she suspected. One of the main events in this novel is that the main character has an abortion, and the direction the plot takes because of this is very interesting. I'm pretty sure Carroll did not intend to espouse a pro-life message, but I realized that there was really no other option. To make an abortion one of the main events of a novel requires looking at it as a trauma (at least for it to be believable). The natural question that follows is, why is it a trauma? And, of course, the natural answer to that question is that a human being has been murdered. While Carroll's character says that she personally regretted her decision but that for other women it would have been the right choice, the reason for her regret is that she killed her little boy and now he only exists in the dream world. Funny how what's right is also what makes sense.

After that I read After Silence, which I've put completely out of my head because it was dumb and boring. So I'm two for two, with another in my stack. The Land of Laughs promises to be fun--we'll see how it turns out. I'd also like to get a hold of his latest work, White Apples, but one of my summer goals is to be frugal, and our library has not yet acquired the book. Patience is a virtue, but alas, not one I possess. Looks like I'll be spending some time reading furtively in Borders.

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