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The Carp Castle: A Novel Hardcover – September 12, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This previously unpublished novel by the late Harris is, like his well-loved favorite, The Balloonist (1976), also concerned with flight; this time it’s dirigibles (zeppelins) at the time of their ascendancy between the first and second world wars. In particular, the dirigible named The League of Nations is being utilized by a spiritualist group—the Guild of Love—to promote its message and to find its promised land, Giaconda, apparently a tropical oasis at the North Pole. The group’s leader, the presumably charismatic (though the reader gets little sense of it) Moira, a blend of Aimee Semple McPherson and Madame Blavatsky, gathers a coterie of followers onto an inflated airship outfitted like a luxury ocean liner and captained by German war veteran Georg von Plautus, who was involved in the bombing of England. Despite biographical backstories on Moira, Georg, and the others, the characters lack dimension, and despite ominous forebodings of the coming war, the story never gets airborne. Fans of The Balloonist will want to give this one a shot, but its appeal may otherwise be limited. --Mark Levine


"As stirring and beautiful as one of the airships that MacDonald Harris so obviously delighted in, The Carp Castle is surely among the best 'love novels' published in recent memory. Harris is at his peak here: witty, sexy, surprising, and so generous to his cast of crackpots and con-artists and heartsore seekers." --Owen King, author of Double Feature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (September 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1468306944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468306941
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,406,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Herter on January 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
MacDonald Harris wrote seventeen novels. Each is a unique pleasure. Discovered among his papers, THE CARP CASTLE is a rich posthumous tale about zeppelins and theosophy, love and delusion, and more zeppelins, set in the years after the Great War. A disparate cast of characters, vividly sketched, gather aboard the airship The League of Nations. They're led by Moira, an ethereal prophetess bound for Gioconda, a land of milk and honey existing at the North Pole. Harris (pseudonym for Donald Heiney, who died in 1993) drifts lovingly from character to character, allowing us to sink into their strange interiors, to rise to the excitement of the voyage (with beautiful depictions of his cherished airships) and always keeps us firmly on course. The enterprise is strongly rooted in the zeitgeist of 1920's Europe, swept along by gusts of silliness and awe, never ponderous, lighter than air. His neglect among readers isn't too baffling: he never repeated himself, and could be counted on to strike out in startling new directions with each book. The results were pure literary treasure. Here's hoping that THE CARP CASTLE -- graced with a lovely cover printed directly on the boards -- will find an audience. My only caveat: a startling number of typos, at least in the edition I bought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Joss on June 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Macdonald Harris' widow Ann found this 18th novel of his, "The Carp Castle," in his papers after his death in 1993 and it has been published first in England by Galileo in Cambridge and now by Overlook Press in the U.S., Both publishers have also republished (and will republish) others of his books, including his extraordinary "The Balloonist," a worthy 1977 nominee for the National Book Award.

Don was an extraordinary writer with amazing range, unafraid to tackle difficult material. He was also a meticulous researcher who almost always got it right, however arcane and complex the subject. He also avoided the genre trap, though demonstrably the route to popularity and financial reward in fiction (some writers virtually clone their earlier books and some `writing factories'--Patterson, Clancy, Ludlum--employ lesser-known writers to clone the work of their `brand'). The reading public is like the music-listening and movie-going public and lunges for the known and `famous,' however repetitive and derivative, like underfed trout. Don is not for them but is for readers who want to learn more about the world and its denizens across wide aspects of human endeavor, and who like to be captivated by brilliant and original writing.

"The Carp Castle" is enigmatic, especially the title, almost experimental in approach and subject matter, wildly imaginative. Metaphysics is not a mainstream subject but the book tackles it head on, with Harris' style of rich literary attack--rich in language, in metaphor, in sexual ambiguity and tension, in unlikely digressions, in technical, historical and geographical detail.
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