The Panic Handby Jonathan Carroll
Compared frequently to Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carroll is, in the worlds of Pat Conroy, "an absolute original." The Panic Hand assembles in one volume the shorter works of this master, including the World Fantasy Award-winning tale "Friend's Best Man" and the short novels Uh-Oh and Black Cocktail.
The volume, previously published in Great Britain, where it won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, is a mixed bag. Carroll at his best explores the psychological and social consequences of "impossible" situations (an "imaginary friend" who comes to life when his playmate reaches adulthood, a house that "remembers" its former occupants) with a deadpan clarity that's reminiscent less of any contemporary writers than such past masters of the genre as Saki and John Collier. He has a real gift for seductive titles ("The Sadness of Detail," "The Dead Love You"), arresting opening sentences ("The first thing Beizer did after hearing he was going blind was to buy a camera"), and comically arbitrary details (a rock group named "Rattlesnake Orgasm," a taking dog that's said to have a voice "kind of like Paul McCartney"). But though his stories often sparkle with crisp dialogue, their wit is frequently vitiated by colorless narrative prose and the imperfect development of some sketchy premises. The real gems here include two novellas: "Uh-Oh City," in which an academic couple's energetic housekeeper turns out to be God (or at least an aspect of Him) and "Black Cocktail," a strange tale of symbiosis and conflict spun from the notion (well concealed till late in the story) of how a human soul is constructed and what this implies about the nature of friendship and sexual attraction. Best of all is the story "Friend's Best Man" (winner of a World Fantasy Award), about an amputee's bewildered relationship with a dying girl and a dog that can predict the future.
Carroll's weaker stories are slight and uninvolving, but his best are among the finest fantasies being written today.
- St. Martin's Press
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- 5.82(w) x 8.51(h) x 1.12(d)
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Meet the Author
Jonathan Samuel Carroll (b.1949) is an American fiction writer primarily known for novels that may be labelled magic realism, slipstream or contemporary fantasy. He is the author of over a dozen novels including The Land of Laughs, The Wooden Sea and White Apples. His novel Outside the Dog Museum was named the best novel of the year by the British Fantasy Society, and has proven to be one of Carroll’s most popular works. Carroll currently writes and lives in Vienna.
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