The Angel Carver

The Angel Carver

by Rosanne Daryl Thomas
     
 

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In Brooklyn, New York, some forty years ago, Jack Standini's wife disappeared, "lost like a glove or a sock or a dream, missing." Since then, he has devoted his life to a craft, and a secret. A shoemaker by day, a carver of exquisite wooden angels by night, Jack accepts his loneliness - until Lucille arrives, with a pair of wrecked shoes, a cherubic face, and a…  See more details below

Overview

In Brooklyn, New York, some forty years ago, Jack Standini's wife disappeared, "lost like a glove or a sock or a dream, missing." Since then, he has devoted his life to a craft, and a secret. A shoemaker by day, a carver of exquisite wooden angels by night, Jack accepts his loneliness - until Lucille arrives, with a pair of wrecked shoes, a cherubic face, and a serious hankering for a more exciting life. A modern fairy tale, The Angel Carver is storytelling at its most swift and poignant. It tells what happens to a man when his reality is rearranged by fate, abruptly and completely. Without warning, Jack finds he has lost the one person he counted on having in his life, while later, he finds himself involved with people he never dreamed he would know. Lucille's morbid aspiration to become Marilyn Monroe, Buddy's cruel, erotic obsession with Lucille, and Jack's magnificent but vulnerable simplicity all intersect in this startling morality tale. The Angel Carver addresses - with compassion, acuity, and humor - the timeless themes of greed, vanity, fidelity, nostalgia, and the true nature of beauty. An illuminating allegory for the nineties, the book moves graciously through a prism of human emotions and fates. Inner beauty become an outward sham. A young woman's delusions abet her self-destruction. An old man's quiet faith becomes a danger to him. Yet for all the darkness of human nature revealed here, redemption remains possible for the innocent of heart. Jack's neighbor, Leopoldine, island-born and city-wise, reminds us that good can be shorn from evil and that guardian angels do exist, in the guise of friends and lovers. The Angel Carver is a novel of remarkable finesse. It is the sheer force of the author's voice that keeps the reader mesmerized. Thomas conveys complex ideas in a deceptively simple style and conjures up an emotional chord that resonates in us long after the last page.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This very modern fairy tale, in which such timeless evils as envy, greed and cruelty are abetted by the latest advances in computer graphics technology, has the spare impact of both its literary antecedents and television cartoons. Four decades ago in the borough of Brooklyn, Angela, the beloved young wife of shoe repairman Jack Standini, descended into the subway on a trip to Manhattan and was never seen again. After Angela's disappearance (``She was just gone . . . lost like a glove or a sock or a dream, missing''), Jack kept to himself, fixing shoes by day and carving wood angels--exquisite and jewel-eyed, in all sizes--by night in the back room of his apartment. Then young, vulnerable Lucille enters his shop and, awakening Jack's interest in the present, soon moves into his bedroom (he sleeps on the sofa). Deciding to model herself after Marilyn Monroe, Lucille catches the eye of Buddy Lomax, a computer graphics techie (employed at Linotype Hell Graphics) whose obsession with recreating the dead Marilyn darkly mirrors Jack's devotion to his angels. Building on Buddy's monumental venality, Lucille's passivity and a murder in Jack's neighborhood, film-student Thomas propels the plot of this page-turning story in glancingly immediate, cinematic scenes. Innocence, constancy, artistic integrity and the evanescence of beauty are among the age-old themes addressed with vivid, compelling intensity in this quirky, high-flying tale. Under the pseudonym Prince Charming, Thomas wrote Complications. (June)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This unusual, allegorical novel is filled with a regretful wistfulness for so many might-have-beens. In a spare but elegant style, first novelist Thomas describes the improbable relationship that develops between Jack, a lonely cobbler whose 19-year-old wife disappeared mysteriously many years before, and Lucille, a young woman who dreams of becoming Marilyn Monroe. Into their lives comes Buddy Lomax, a shrewd computer technician, who is able to manipulate graphic images on an ingenious machine aptly named ``Hell.'' He promises to help Lucille transform herself into the movie goddess, even as he schemes to rob Jack of his secret life's work of magnificent wood-carved angels. This exquisite cautionary fable is highly recommended.-- Barbara Love, St. Lawrence Coll., Kingston, Ontario
Kirkus Reviews
Downtown meets Brooklyn, Pygmalion meets Faust, and Marilyn Monroe meets the devil—in this rollicking contemporary fairy tale by first-novelist Thomas. For 40 years in Flatbush, Jack has quietly worked at his bench at Reliable Shoe Repair by day and in his secret room, carving luxuriant Renaissance angels out of ebony and ash, by night—all the time waiting, somewhat hopelessly now, for the reappearance of his wife Angela, who mysteriously failed to come home from a shopping trip in 1952. Instead, two things happen: Jack's elderly neighbor Mrs. Rice dies, replaced by a tenant Jack thinks of as "the mass murderer" because he uproots and otherwise desecrates Mrs. Rice's lovely garden, over which Jack's secret room has looked for more than half a century; and a sweet 19-year-old waif named Lucille—an aspiring Marilyn Monroe imitator—wanders into Reliable to have her waitressing shoes fixed and wins Jack's grandfatherly affections. That's when the trouble starts. At a Marilyn look-alike contest to which Jack accompanies her, Lucille meets Buddy Lomax—agency photographer, image banker, and master operator of a diabolical computerized photographic collage-making device called the Hell; Buddy promises to make Lucille more like Marilyn than Marilyn and begins by sending her to dermabrasionists and plastic surgeons. By now Lucille is living in Jack's apartment, and Buddy tricks her into letting him peek at the lavish, jewel-eyed backroom angels, which—being even more beautiful than his own creation in Lucille—he decides to steal: First he'll try compiling a phony photographic life-history of the missing Angela on the Hell machine and pretend to Jackthat he can locate her—in exchange for the angels; if that doesn't work (and it doesn't), Buddy will frame Jack for the murder of the loutish next-door neighbor, who's been found dead in Mrs. Rice's garden.... Like Walker Percy in his early novels, Thomas possesses a real gift for the lyrical and fabulous: an impressive, oddball pleasure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679423638
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/25/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
208

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