The Resurrectionist

( 3 )


The Resurrectionist is a wild ride into a territory where nothing is as it appears. Part classic noir thriller, part fabulist fable, it is the story of Sweeney and his comatose son, Danny. Hoping for a miracle, Sweeney has brought Danny to the fortresslike Peck Clinic, whose doctors claim to have "resurrected" patients who were similarly lost in the void. but the real cure for his son's condition may lie in Limbo, a comic book world beloved by Danny before he slipped into a ...

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The Resurrectionist is a wild ride into a territory where nothing is as it appears. Part classic noir thriller, part fabulist fable, it is the story of Sweeney and his comatose son, Danny. Hoping for a miracle, Sweeney has brought Danny to the fortresslike Peck Clinic, whose doctors claim to have "resurrected" patients who were similarly lost in the void. but the real cure for his son's condition may lie in Limbo, a comic book world beloved by Danny before he slipped into a coma.

O'Connell has crafted a spellbinding novel about stories and what they can do for and to those who create them and those who consume them. About the nature of consciousness and the power of the unknown. And, ultimately, about forgiveness and the depth of our need to extend it and receive it.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
…Sweeney buys time to spend at Danny's bedside, reading aloud from the boy's beloved Limbo comics. The band of heroes in this sadomasochistic series, the Goldfaden Freaks, have been abandoned by their carnival owner, cast adrift in a hostile world. As Sweeney recounts the bizarre adventures of Chick the chicken boy, Jeta the skeleton, Antoinette the pinhead and the rest of their forlorn troupe, O'Connell introduces us to the "real" freaks in Quinsigamond—notably the Abominations, renegade bikers trafficking in human tissue, and Dr. Peck, who needs this contraband for resurrecting the brain-dead patients he calls "sleepers." Before long, the two sets of characters are interacting, and their respective genres are melding into a meta-narrative with common themes: love and loss, death and redemption, and the eternal devotion of fathers for their sons. Despite the fabulist flair of his surreal style, O'Connell is just retelling the old story every boy wants to hear.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Holter Graham deftly brings to life the myriad characters that populate O'Connell's novel. Sweeney, a pharmacist, brings his comatose son, Danny, to the mysterious Peck Clinic in the hope that the doctors can restore his boy to consciousness. While trying to settle into his new surroundings, Sweeney encounters the peculiar staff of the hospital and a bizarre motorcycle gang who all have dark designs on his son. Though Graham sounds a bit young in his narration, his character voices are dead on, whether portraying the philosophical/psychotic head biker, a stoic strong man from a comic book series Danny loved, or the central, single-minded earnestness of Sweeney, each character is imbued with a richness of layers that is a tribute to O'Connell's writing and Graham's performance. Simultaneous release with the Algonquin hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 4). (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Noir mixed with elements of dark fantasy may seem like an odd combination, but novelist O'Connell (Word Made Flesh; The Skin Palace) pulls it off in a strange and extremely original work. Sweeney has brought his comatose son, Danny, to the renowned Peck Clinic for treatment. But he soon discovers that despite its stellar reputation, the clinic and the surrounding town aren't what they appear to be. Soon Sweeney is not only involved with clinic staff but also a group of bikers who believe they have the answers Sweeney needs. The fantasy element enters in the form of Limbo, Danny's favorite comic, chapters of which are interspersed with happenings at the clinic. Although difficult to explain succinctly, the tale of Limboand Danny's own story are related. In the end, this unusual novel may disappoint fans of straightforward mystery, but those open to something different should be pleasantly surprised. Recommended for adventurous fiction collections.
—Craig Shufelt

Kirkus Reviews
A father struggles to reclaim his son from a long-standing coma in O'Connell's dark, wildly inventive fantasy. The years Danny Sweeney has spent at St. Joseph's Hospital in Cleveland have done nothing to awaken him from his persistent vegetative state. Now his pharmacist father has brought him to the Peck Clinic in Quinsigamond, Mass., where Sweeney Senior is to take charge of the clinic's drug room. The move is disruptive and the job means a pay cut, but the stakes are high: Dr. Micah Peck claims to have brought back two equally hopeless patients with experimental treatments. As Sweeney settles into his new routine, he becomes intent on collecting back issues of Limbo Comics, a series that had fascinated Danny before his accident. The comics relate the adventures of the Goldfaden Freaks, a sideshow troupe including a protective strongman, a fat lady, a dwarf, a skeleton, a bearded lady, a pinhead, a human torso, a lobster girl, a hermaphrodite, a pair of conjoined twins and a chicken boy who serves as their "conscience and spirit." When Chick incurs the wrath of the murderous Shoshone McGee, the freaks are forced into a perilous odyssey. Although their comic-book travails apparently couldn't be more removed from the antiseptic orbit of the Peck Clinic, the two worlds soon begin to bleed into one another, especially once Sweeney takes up with Nadia Rey, Danny's nurse, and the Abominations, a gang of bikers who seem to straddle the frontier between Chick and Dr. Peck. Can Danny somehow be recalled to his father's world, or can Sweeney join his son in Danny's twilight world? The question won't be answered until Sweeney is taught by Limbo Comics to see himself and his son in ways that demanda monstrous leap of faith. The shadow world of comic books provides O'Connell (Word Made Flesh, 1999, etc.) with material for a nightmarish story that's hallucinatory, tightly structured and ultimately redemptive.
From the Publisher

. . . a remarkable novel that is hilarious, baffling, terrifying and reassuring.

. . . each character is imbued with a richness of layers that is a tribute to O'Connell's writing and Graham's performance.
Publishers Weekly

The Washington Post
"Unfailingly sly. . . . O'Connell is skilled at walking his particular tightrope between reality and surreality."—The Washington Post
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"O'Connell is a mesmerizing storyteller."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Strand Magazine
"A masterpiece, O'Connell's tour de force has a dose of the uncertainty of Kafka, the fantasy of Bradbury, the crisp prose of Greene, and the noir of Chandler." - The Strand Magazine
Fantasy & Science Fiction
"The Resurrectionist is a brilliant, wild, heartfelt novel. It seems, like all of O’Connell’s work, at once to bear tribute to its predecessors and to come out of nowhere, a stew whose various lumps, gristles, fillers, and spices have long since cooked down to a single, amazing richness. O’Connell’s books are one of a kind — again and again."
“'Graham’s measured reading steers a course through nagging crossroads of perception, allowing layers of reality and fantasy to wash over us in a very effective, if nonlinear, listening experience.”
Boston Globe
"O'Connell's gift for building tension within a scene is equaled by his ability to create wonderfully dark and elaborate stage sets upon which to play out his dramas . . . [He] is wilder, edgier, more far-ranging and extravagant than his fellow genre-jumpers.” —The Boston Globe
The New York Times Book Review
"To call Jack O'Connell’s novels imaginative, or even original, doesn't begin to say it . . . There's something both exciting and unnerving about [his] kind of hallucinatory writing." —The New York Times Book Review
San Francisco Chronicle
"A wild, surreal and thought-provoking ride." —San Francisco Chronicle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565126787
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 977,317
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

JACK O'CONNELL is the author of several acclaimed novels. O'Connell has been described as a cyberpunk Dashiell Hammett. His dark, noir-ish crime stories are dragging the crime genre into new realms. He lives in Wooster, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 9, 2012

    Superb book by a wonder author. A tour de force.

    Superb book by a wonder author. A tour de force.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Resurrectionist

    I won't attempt to recap the synopsis of The Resurrectionist, because that would be too time consuming. I will say that the story starts out very strong and very interesting. Two stories run in tandem that seem to be unrelated, but little hints of one story begin to show up in the others (i.e. place's names etc.). Unfortunately, this book really never delivers the big "punch". Sweeney is consistently a disappointing character and never really seems to evolve. The story with the Freaks is actually a little prosaic and boring. My biggest gripe is the ending. I won't spoil anything, but I feel like it was a big letdown and seemed to suddenly take the novel in a totally different direction, but not in a good way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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