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Comment: Ex-library book. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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The Panic Hand Hardcover – November, 1996

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I want you frowning now, knowing something is very wrong with your parachute even before actually pulling the cord and praying it opens. P.S. It won't." So Jonathan Carroll addresses his readers in this much-awaited collection of 20 stories. Author of several wry and dark novels, Carroll has a considerable following, but his books are difficult to pigeonhole, so some horror and fantasy readers are still unfamiliar with him. This collection shows off his talents admirably, in tales that range from bittersweet sadness over God's failing memory, to a disturbing friendship between a dog and a dying child, to a macabre fantasy about how men and women manipulate each other. As The New York Times put it, "Carroll's world is one that is subtly out of kilter, and which can take a turn for the sinister at any time." This volume is winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story Collection.

From Publishers Weekly

Carroll (From the Teeth of Angels) has a high reputation in literary SF and fantasy circles. This collection of 20 pieces of his short fiction suggests that it is well deserved. He has a conspicuous knack for giving new dimensions to venerable themes. "Friend's Best Man," which won a World Fantasy Award in 1987, offers a new take on the revolt of the animals. "Uh-Oh City" does marvelous things with the Jewish folkloric concept of the 36 Just Men on whom the world depends. "Black Cocktail" explores, in sometimes grisly detail, not merely the group mind but the group soul. The title story is a chilling exploration of a handicapped child's use of alter egos to explore, among other things, adult sexuality. The narrator of "The Sadness of Detail" sits down in her favorite cafe, only to be interrupted by a stranger who shows her photographs of her husband and son in the future and tells her how she can alter their destinies?and her own. Carroll's stories are tightly focused, with hardly an ill-chosen or misplaced word. They are distinguished by a powerfully haunting quality that derives from a deceptively simple combination of fantastic events related in the easy voice of a raconteur telling simple anecdotes.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st U.S. ed edition (November 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312146981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312146986
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
THE PANIC HAND is a collection of 20 stories of such variety and oddness that it is difficult to give potential readers any general idea of their content. It wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to label them as fantasy, though that term has connotations that miss the mark. Besides, in several, no outwardly fantastic elements appear; in others, one might consider them closer to horror. But regardless of genre, nearly all of them were compelling and interesting, even if the endings did not always bring a satisfactory resolution.

In these stories, Jonathan Carroll takes for his subjects such ideas as werewolves, Jewish mythology, the gestalt soul, imaginary friends, Hell, stalkers, and the takeover of the world by animals; others are undefinable. Regardless of his outward imagery though, these stories are about people - about their relationships and how the odd event provokes a sudden reevaluation of their lives. As such, I thought there were several that were extremely well done, including THE FALL COLLECTION, THE SADNESS OF DETAIL, LEARNING TO LEAVE, and A WHEEL IN THE DESERT, THE MOON ON SOME SWINGS. I have a feeling though that if five or ten people were to read this collection, each would have a different 'favorite'. In other words, I thought there were few stories in the collection that were unpolished or clumsy - almost all were well-done - though it seemed as if the different approaches might work better with different readers.

While the themes and - I think - the objectives are different, these stories remind me of the short fiction of Peter Carey and George Saunders - two authors who I also feel use fantastic and odd settings to examine personal meaning.
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Format: Hardcover
Writers who don't feel like producing the sociological, autobiographical and confessional tracts that dominate the world of American fiction have it tough. Magazines and publishing houses demand an endless stream of stories about sensitive types growing up amidst cornfields; family members dying or just about to; the difficulties of growing up X in a non-X world; and how "Uncle Bert molested me when I was twelve."
To his credit, Carroll will have none of it. Well, he'll have a little, provided he can transform it in his own unique way. Try "Friend's Best Man" (a dog story with a difference), "Uh-Oh City", "The Sadness of Detail", or the hilarious "Postgraduate" (gives new meaning to the term "lifelong learning").
I detect a fairly strong Central European influence, probably owing to Carroll's long residence in Vienna. Some of the stories seem to owe something to Robert Walser or Kafka, and the premise of "Postgraduate" is similar to that of Gombrowicz's "Ferdydurke". All to the good, I think. Not all the stories are first-rate, but writing fiction of this sort requires one to take risks.
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Format: Hardcover
I hate to harp on it, but Jonathan Carroll has problems ending stories. I would like to say I don't care because even a partial story by Carroll is enough, but the truth is that I'm always left with a craving that you get when you read a story and you're wrapped up into it and you require completion. Supposedly American audiences require a "happy" completion, but I hope I'm beyond that. "Uh-oh City" has all the things that are quintessential Carroll: characters who are intrinsically interesting, a doozy of a "weirdness," and the, unfortunately, open ending. The premise is that there are 36 people who are God, but not individually, but collectively. One-thirty-sixth of God is still pretty much amazing, though, and when God(sub36) tells you that they are dying and you are next in line to become part of the 36thhood, what can you say? Complications ensue, as they usually do, and things are never as they seem in a Carroll story, but after the final twisty turn we reach the last sentence and we are still on the precipice of understanding, and need a final push to put us over...and it never comes.
The other stories here are more of the same wild, wonderful fare. THE PANIC HAND was originally published in Germany with a slightly different table of contents. I own a copy of that book, but being unable to read German was slightly hampered in trying to understand the stories. Carroll's better at the long form--his favorite literary device is the untrustworthy narrator, and it takes at least 50 pages to set up a story with one of those that won't annoy the reader. Even still, his tendency for the twist and his incredible way of creating characters that you would like to know in a few sentences is enjoyable even in the short form.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are a Carroll fan, there is this void between his last book and next that can be filled by reading the Panic Hand. If you are not yet a fan, time's a wasting, get thee to a Carroll book! The stories in here are little vignettes of Carroll's creative mind: there are stories here that can be novels, movies, dreams and poetry. This book is a good text for the beginning writer--the plots and prose are well-crafted. Some of he stories--Sadness in Detail, being one--are best left as it is in the book-- a short story: what if God is forgetting the details? This and many of the stories question the reader and sometimes invite a brief journey into strange realms. I have stopped trying to place Carroll into a genre; I love his stories and that is enough.
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