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From the teeth of angels
Jonathan Carroll
Adult Fiction CARROLL

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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. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Ian McGann
While on holiday in Sardinia he meets Death in a lucid dream.
Travel agent

Arlen Ford
Was unhappy with her life; quit acting at the height of her career.

Leland Zivic
HIV positive
Cynical; charming; looking for a respite from his tour of war-torn Sarajevo.

Wyatt Leonard
Dying of leukemia; playing a high-stakes game of 20 questions with Death.

Sophie Chapman
Wyatt's friend; looking for her missing brother.

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