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FROM THE TEETH OF ANGELS Hardcover – April 1, 1994
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
Long popular in Germany and other parts of Europe, Carroll is acquiring a larger audience here, but his latest effort, though as provocative and as cleverly written as his previous books ( Outside the Dog Museum ; After Silence ), does not quite come together. Understanding the nature and logistics of dying becomes a perilous enterprise in this quirky tale of four people's supernatural confrontation with the malevolent angel of death. Wyatt Leonard, formerly "Finky Linky," a famous children's TV star, is dying of leukemia when his best friend Sophie pleads with him to accompany her to Vienna and find out what's wrong with her brother Jesse. Both Jesse and Englishman Ian McGann, who met while vacationing in Sardinia, are suffering from weird dreams in which they meet with Death and ask various questions. When Jesse and McGann fail to comprehend Death's cryptic answers to these queries, they awaken with serious injuries and ailments. Also in Vienna is Arlen Ford, a former movie star who has fled Hollywood and is living as a spartan recluse. Arlen falls in love with an HIV-positive photographer named Leland Zivic and ultimately must share the odd predicament of Wyatt, Jesse and McGann. Carroll develops his plot largely through the spoken anecdotes and exchanged letters of principal characters and their loved ones. Each of these accounts draws the reader in further with incremental revelations and skillfully crafted, suspenseful narrative. Unfortunately, these individually intriguing parts never cohere to form a greater whole. Despite the Faustian pretensions, obvious metaphysical questions are never probed and only murkily formulated, making the invocation of Death less meaningful than Carroll probably intended. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Death comes in a variety of guises in this somberly beautiful novel. To Englishman Ian McGann, death comes in a dream, offering to answer all his questions on existence but exacting a high price if he fails to understand. To Wyatt Leonard, a one-time children's TV host dying of leukemia, death appears in a surreal vision of a Los Angeles police officer, then as a friend who has previously passed on. For Arlen Ford, an actress burned out on the Hollywood fast life, death comes as the man of her dreams, a war correspondent just returned from a besieged Sarajevo. Action centers on the intersection of these three as they struggle toward an understanding of final things. The lean prose and formal Viennese settings add to the autumnal atmosphere of this stylish, haunting novel. Recommended for literary fiction collections.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The story starts with an Englishman Ian McGann, who meets Death in a dream. When he asks questions, if Death likes them, things go smoothly. If he doesn't, there are mysterious scars and wounds on Ian's body. He meets up with a young couple and Jessie, the husband, starts having the same dreams. His wife sends a letter off to his sister Sophie, who enlists the help of her best friend Wyatt. Wyatt is dying from leukemia. He doesn't want to head off to Austria with her but does so because of a favor that was asked from him before. What he finds there is that he is needed to sort out everyone's dreams of Death and sort out his own life.
We also follow Arlen, an actress who has spent the most of her recent past in Austria, cooking and cleaning and staying out of the limelight. When she meets up with Leland, a war correspondent, she discovers happiness and pain. I won't go into just what goes on with Leland. I don't want to give too much away.
The feeling that I got from the author is that we all have to die at some point. It's the one true thing in life. People die in many ways and the more you fight it, the less of a life you live. It's a wonderfully written book. There were a few passages that made us all have a-ha moments. I got confused a few times but it does eventually all work together and make a lot of sense.
In tone and story this book reminds me strongly of Ann Patchett's <I><a href="http://smile.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_19?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=the%20magician%27s%20assistant&sprefix=the+magician%27s+assi%2Caps%2C177">The Magician's Assistant</a></I> and shares many similar themes: Dreaming, stage magic, and connecting meaningfully with people after they've died.
Well worth the read.
The exciting thing about this novel is that Carroll is able to introduce fantasy and it fits like a glove. The characters use this new being to help them answer their questions. As a reader I was drawn in and experienced the same revelations as the characters. My life is now fuller for having read this book.