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The Ghost in Love

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"I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats—with devilish tricks inside them."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Neil Gaiman has written: "Jonathan Carroll has the magic. He'll lend you his eyes, and you'll never see the world in quite the same way ever again." Welcome to the luminous and marvelous "I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats—with devilish tricks inside them."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Neil Gaiman has written: "Jonathan Carroll has the magic. He'll lend you his eyes, and you'll never see the world in quite the same way ever again." Welcome to the luminous and marvelously inventive world of The Ghost in Love. A man falls in the snow, hits his head on a curb, and dies. But something strange occurs: the man doesn't die, and the ghost that's been sent to take his soul to the afterlife is flabbergasted. Going immediately to its boss, the ghost asks, what should I do now? The boss says, we don't know how this happened but we're working on it. We want you to stay with this man to help us figure out what's going on. The ghost agrees unhappily; it is a ghost, not a nursemaid. But a funny thing happens—the ghost falls madly in love with the man's girlfriend, and things naturally get complicated. Soon afterward, the man discovers he did not die when he was "supposed" to because for the first time in their history, human beings have decided to take their fates back from the gods. It's a wonderful change, but one that comes at a price. The Ghost in Love is about what happens to us when we discover that we have become the masters of our own fate. No excuses, no outside forces or gods to blame—the responsibility is all our own. It's also about love, ghosts that happen to be gourmet cooks, talking dogs, and picnicking in the rain with yourself at twenty different ages. Stephen King has said that "Jonathan Carroll is as scary as Hitchcock, when he isn't being as funny as Jim Carrey." Jonathan Lethem sees Carroll as the "master of sunlit surrealism." However one regards this beguiling original, two facts are indisputable: It's tough being a ghost on an empty stomach. And The Ghost in Love is a triumphant return.


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"I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats—with devilish tricks inside them."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Neil Gaiman has written: "Jonathan Carroll has the magic. He'll lend you his eyes, and you'll never see the world in quite the same way ever again." Welcome to the luminous and marvelous "I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats—with devilish tricks inside them."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Neil Gaiman has written: "Jonathan Carroll has the magic. He'll lend you his eyes, and you'll never see the world in quite the same way ever again." Welcome to the luminous and marvelously inventive world of The Ghost in Love. A man falls in the snow, hits his head on a curb, and dies. But something strange occurs: the man doesn't die, and the ghost that's been sent to take his soul to the afterlife is flabbergasted. Going immediately to its boss, the ghost asks, what should I do now? The boss says, we don't know how this happened but we're working on it. We want you to stay with this man to help us figure out what's going on. The ghost agrees unhappily; it is a ghost, not a nursemaid. But a funny thing happens—the ghost falls madly in love with the man's girlfriend, and things naturally get complicated. Soon afterward, the man discovers he did not die when he was "supposed" to because for the first time in their history, human beings have decided to take their fates back from the gods. It's a wonderful change, but one that comes at a price. The Ghost in Love is about what happens to us when we discover that we have become the masters of our own fate. No excuses, no outside forces or gods to blame—the responsibility is all our own. It's also about love, ghosts that happen to be gourmet cooks, talking dogs, and picnicking in the rain with yourself at twenty different ages. Stephen King has said that "Jonathan Carroll is as scary as Hitchcock, when he isn't being as funny as Jim Carrey." Jonathan Lethem sees Carroll as the "master of sunlit surrealism." However one regards this beguiling original, two facts are indisputable: It's tough being a ghost on an empty stomach. And The Ghost in Love is a triumphant return.

30 review for The Ghost in Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    The first Jonathan Carroll book i read, about eight years ago, was The Wooden Sea, an other-worldly sci-fi fever dream of a novel. I really liked it, and then I finished it, and it made me crazy, because at the end, I had only a vague idea of what the heck had happened. The Ghost in Love is less opaque but similarly fantastical, and I could probably give both books the same capsule review: It starts off making sense, and then things get really weird, and continue to get weirder. Also there is a d The first Jonathan Carroll book i read, about eight years ago, was The Wooden Sea, an other-worldly sci-fi fever dream of a novel. I really liked it, and then I finished it, and it made me crazy, because at the end, I had only a vague idea of what the heck had happened. The Ghost in Love is less opaque but similarly fantastical, and I could probably give both books the same capsule review: It starts off making sense, and then things get really weird, and continue to get weirder. Also there is a dog. Like a dream, The Wooden Sea has totally evaporated in my memory, but I think I'll be able to hold onto this one a little better because it has a great high-concept engine driving the plot: when we reach the prescribed moment of death, our spirits move into the afterlife, but our ghosts remain on earth -- ghosts being spectral employees that inhabit your personality only long enough to take care of any unfinished business you may have had (you know, writing touching farewells to your wife in the fog on the bathroom mirror or sucking little girls into television sets or whatever). After that, the ghost moves on to a new assignment, becomes someone else's ghost. This is the story of one of those ghosts, Ling, who shadows her latest charge, Ben, waiting for him to die. While on the job, Ling falls in love with Ben's ex-girlfriend, German, and is looking forward to getting to haunt her. Except when his time comes, Ben doesn't die -- he survives an accident that should have been fatal. That isn't supposed to happen -- Death, who is an amiable sort, is quite out of sorts -- and creates a big problem in the bureaucracy of the afterlife. Ling is assigned to figure out why Ben was able to survive, even as the apparent rent in the fabric of reality introduces the sinister presence of a spectral killer in the guise of a homeless man. So, that sounds cool. And it is! But that's just the first part of the story, where everything more or less makes sense. By the time Ben and Ling team up with another death survivor, who lived through a fatal car crash [sic], and start time traveling, maybe, it gets tougher to figure out what's going on. Which can be a plus or a minus, depending on how you read -- there are great characters here, and the romantic relationship between Ben and German feels very real and whole, and you might want a little better idea of why and how all this is happening. But still! Carroll is great with his ideas, and this book has some great ones. There is this great romantic notion of being able to converse, really talk to, all of the separate yous, to have a chat with the frustrated teenager version of you that struggled to find his place in high school, and the lazy college version of you that never knew all of the opportunities he was missing. The idea of another person's love for you reflected in all of the people that remind them of you -- you are her third grade teacher, who believed in her, and also her father, who made her feel safe. The idea that your own view of yourself might include ugly, nasty people -- reflections of you at your worst, because ultimately, so many of us don't like ourselves. Does any of that make sense? It's like that in the book too -- big concepts that slip around in your brain, struggling for purchase, but you want to keep reading and figure them out. Maybe you never do. I almost forgot the dog: Ben's dog is a reincarnation of his former lover, who he inadvertently killed in a car accident. I have no idea why, but large parts of the story are from a dog's POV, and Carroll obviously gets dog psychology. Which is pretty fun.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Didn't like it. Didn't get it. I wish someone would pay me to write a book that seems like I made up as I went along. No plot necessary...things can change midstream with no explanation...nothing has to make sense. I know there's a market for this kind of book but I'm not part of it! I just finished it and yet I couldn't even tell you how it ended. The plot never made sense anyway so I guess I didn't care how it ended. No part of the plot seemed to be resolved. For example, the ghost in love (he Didn't like it. Didn't get it. I wish someone would pay me to write a book that seems like I made up as I went along. No plot necessary...things can change midstream with no explanation...nothing has to make sense. I know there's a market for this kind of book but I'm not part of it! I just finished it and yet I couldn't even tell you how it ended. The plot never made sense anyway so I guess I didn't care how it ended. No part of the plot seemed to be resolved. For example, the ghost in love (hence the title) with Ben's girlfriend, German, turns out to be female, and Asian, and, beyond cooking German a large meal (which she can't even see) never shows in any other way how she's in love with her. It's just dropped. In fact, Ling herself (the ghost in love) is just dropped. The author created these dog-like creatures called verzes which come to the aid of humans when needed. I don't know why they're even in the story--they serve no purpose. They kill the bad ghost who just comes back alive again. There were a couple of things I liked about the book, I grudgingly admit. The talking dog, Pilot, was amusing. The relationship between Ben and German was very sweet. They are clearly a couple who are meant to be together and you root for that to happen. But that was not enough to make this book worth reading. Too strange for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    doreen

    I thought this was a lovely book. I would recommend this book with caution, for I can see people either loving or hating this book. Readers may not like it because there is much in the story which is left unexplained, but I suppose I'm a relatively complacent reader, as any mysteries left unexplained to me weren't as important as the feelings and thoughts of the characters, along with the overall message I took from the book. I happen to love The Ghost in Love, and finished the book a little happ I thought this was a lovely book. I would recommend this book with caution, for I can see people either loving or hating this book. Readers may not like it because there is much in the story which is left unexplained, but I suppose I'm a relatively complacent reader, as any mysteries left unexplained to me weren't as important as the feelings and thoughts of the characters, along with the overall message I took from the book. I happen to love The Ghost in Love, and finished the book a little happier and more pleased with life. When a book encourages you to look at your life and consider what is pleasurable, reflect on whom you love, and remember things from your past you thought forgotten, it's like drinking honeyed tea and eating butter cookies. This was, for me, a cozy book and I found the characters enjoyable and easy to relate to, even (and especially) the ghost in the title.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jen Dent

    Some of the things I don't like in other authors such as jerky transitions and sloppy endings I eternally forgive in Jonathan Carroll because I am really taken with his descriptions of things and the relationships of who he is writing about. All of his books have these characters with beautiful attractions to each other for all the tiny little reasons we each have for anybody we've ever cared about, but here they are laid out for us the reader in charming array. Touch, details, funny bits of mem Some of the things I don't like in other authors such as jerky transitions and sloppy endings I eternally forgive in Jonathan Carroll because I am really taken with his descriptions of things and the relationships of who he is writing about. All of his books have these characters with beautiful attractions to each other for all the tiny little reasons we each have for anybody we've ever cared about, but here they are laid out for us the reader in charming array. Touch, details, funny bits of memory are all there. At it's simplest this go around is a book about someone who died, but didn't, and what happened afterwards. Saying more won't give you the right sense of it. Oh and dogs, ghosts, and the Angel of Death are involved, if that helps.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    A librarian recommended this book to me when there were no Murakami books on the shelf. She assured me that this would fill that same gap in my heart. It sat around in my room, almost forgotten, for about a month, and when it was time to give it back or incur over-due fines, I decided to read it anyway. I began at eleven and finished at four in the morning. Jonathan Carroll’s Ghost in Love begins as a relatively normal story about a breakup between Ben and his girlfriend, German. Then we find out A librarian recommended this book to me when there were no Murakami books on the shelf. She assured me that this would fill that same gap in my heart. It sat around in my room, almost forgotten, for about a month, and when it was time to give it back or incur over-due fines, I decided to read it anyway. I began at eleven and finished at four in the morning. Jonathan Carroll’s Ghost in Love begins as a relatively normal story about a breakup between Ben and his girlfriend, German. Then we find out that Ben is being followed by his ghost, whom he cannot see, because he was meant to die and didn’t. As you can glean from the name, the ghost is in love – with Ben’s girlfriend. And from there, it spirals into this weird place that is believable but very surreal. In that way, it is very much like Murakami. Let me very clearly say that Carroll is an unbelievable writer. His descriptions of events are entrancing but it is the emotions that he strings together beautifully that touch my heart. In his explanation of the relationship between the main character and his girlfriend, I fell in love with the book. In his odd introduction to a strange world, which I will miss, I was mesmerized. What I enjoy about writers like Carroll is that they take an already established concept like ghosts and change the rules. Rather than allowing the reader to bring their prior knowledge and bias about a concept like ghosts, he changes it to such an extent that you have to be open minded about it. It also gives him great leeway as the story goes on to further alter things or make them up entirely. From The Ghost in Love’s title it sounds as though this story focuses on the relationship between Ben’s ghost and his girlfriend German. But it doesn’t. The ghost’s love for German helps to further the story along in important places, but it isn’t the backbone for it, really. When I decided to check out the book it was partly becuase I was hoping for a romantic story about an impossible love and partly because of the intriguing cover art, but it mostly doesn’t fit. A definite case of what happens when you judge a book by its cover and come away pleasantly surprised. The ending of The Ghost in Love felt appropriate to me, leaving loose ends open and letting my imagination take the reigns. It gives Carroll a chance to explore this universe again, though I am not sure he will. Most importantly, I was left thinking about important things that I often neglect when I got to the last page – fate, free will, the importance of love and the treasured memories of my past. I went to the library today and picked up another Jonathan Carroll book, the only one they had on the shelf, letting The Ghost in Love enter circulation again. This is a book that I think I’m going to have to own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    I love Jonathan Carroll. Here's what happens to me when I read his books. Number 1, reading the book is a roller coaster of delights. There is always the element of the supernatural but I would not call these books fantasy, at least not traditional fantasy. There is always some cool dog in the book that can talk. Carroll has a million interesting complicated plot twists and ideas that unfold as the novel progresses and as my friend, C, put it, the novel crescendos to the very end. Number 2, you I love Jonathan Carroll. Here's what happens to me when I read his books. Number 1, reading the book is a roller coaster of delights. There is always the element of the supernatural but I would not call these books fantasy, at least not traditional fantasy. There is always some cool dog in the book that can talk. Carroll has a million interesting complicated plot twists and ideas that unfold as the novel progresses and as my friend, C, put it, the novel crescendos to the very end. Number 2, you don't really remember most of the plot of the book, after a year or two. It's just too complicated, and in a way, is sort of incidental to the ideas that it was transmitting. But you do remember 1-3 characters, ideas, or scenes, and they stay with you forever. Forever. He is a wonderful writer and his books are smart but not snooty or overly intellectual. Carroll can describe and show the ways that our experiences--the painful ones, the youthful ones, the shared ones, the internal ones--play out in our decisions and actions of our present. Obviously, I highly recommend. Try one, the one that looks most interesting to you. Best wishes, Michele By the way, I own the kindle version, not the audio version but couldn't find one listed here. I do listen to a lot of audio but not this one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    El

    The ghost who is in love is Ling, a companion ghost to still-living Ben Gould; Ben was slated to die earlier but did not, thus throwing the ghost world into a state of confusion and disconcert. Ling is attached to Ben in order to find out what exactly is happening and why those scheduled to die are not dying as the schedule dictates. In the meantime, Ben is having flashes of another person's life and is suddenly able to communicate with his dog, Pilot. As Ben's recently ex-girlfriend, German, he The ghost who is in love is Ling, a companion ghost to still-living Ben Gould; Ben was slated to die earlier but did not, thus throwing the ghost world into a state of confusion and disconcert. Ling is attached to Ben in order to find out what exactly is happening and why those scheduled to die are not dying as the schedule dictates. In the meantime, Ben is having flashes of another person's life and is suddenly able to communicate with his dog, Pilot. As Ben's recently ex-girlfriend, German, helps Ben discover the truth behind his "death", the pieces come together for both the living and the dead. Generally the best part of Jonathan Carroll's books for me are the fact that they start out seemingly completely normal and then suddenly they just are not anymore. The difference here is that the story was never normal. Aside from the truly bad title (yes, it really is just bad), the story begins and ends in complete imagination chaos. I liked it, though because of the oddities immediately from the beginning I did have a little trouble getting into it. But Carroll manages to always make me feel like I'm reading the inside of my brain, if I could put that part on paper. He touches on reincarnation here and spirituality and death and, I posit, schizophrenia. He incorporates dogs into a lot of his writing, and it adds a level of intimacy when they hold impressive roles in his books (at least for those of us obsessed with our puppies...). I stayed up way past by bedtime to finish this one, but then that's what Carroll's writing does to me. And, on a more personal note, I have a completely different perspective on our adopted shelter dog now after reading this book. I just have to figure out which crazy in my past (or in my boyfriend's past) she used to be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    lynne naranek

    The dust jacket features a glowing review of the author by Stephen King, so that was the clincher - without SK's input, I probably would have teetered the othe rway and laid the book back on the library shelf. So I guess I could say it's SK's fault that I had to limp through this book?! :p Seriously, though. The idea is good. Something is happening: people who are supposed to die are NOT dying, thus throwing the folk in charge of the afterlife into disarray. Thing is, the "normal" system that th The dust jacket features a glowing review of the author by Stephen King, so that was the clincher - without SK's input, I probably would have teetered the othe rway and laid the book back on the library shelf. So I guess I could say it's SK's fault that I had to limp through this book?! :p Seriously, though. The idea is good. Something is happening: people who are supposed to die are NOT dying, thus throwing the folk in charge of the afterlife into disarray. Thing is, the "normal" system that the author has envisioned is already kinda weird, with a ghost that comes in to finish up your unfinished business once you die and go to wherever it is you go in that version of the afterlife. We follow one such should-have-died person (Ben), get to know his not-anymore girlfriend, and his/their dog, then get introduced to another should-have-died woman; mix in conversations with Ben's ghost with the Angel of Death, and mysterious furless earless protector dogs, pink fogs of cancer, and what-have-yous, and whaddaya know, it all made for a book that could have been so much more, but falls short. The only thing I liked in the whole book? A scene where should-have-died woman is transported back to a pivotal moment in her life, where at age 12 she committed her first act of shoplifting... except that upon witnessing the scene, she realised that while the 12-year-old version of her did the actual stealing, she had been urged on by the 6-year-old-version of her, within her. That she realised she had all these other "selves" within her, each with her own set of hopes and fears (the 6-year-old's constinued to wonder if she would burn in Hell for having stolen, for example). I thought this concept was good. Pity it got kinda buried in all sorts of other stuff, and therefore lost its impact. Overall? I'd say don't bother with this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    I'm a fan of Jonathan Carroll's work. I've read and loved several of his novels, but not for a while. Ghost in Love has all the classic Carroll's elements, great writing, small scale but gepic love story and plenty of magic/weirdness. Actually, with this story I think there might have been too much of the latter, possibly overwhelming the formers. Although it all made sense in the way Carroll's books usually do, it was almost a bit too convoluted or overly complicated. The story itself was great I'm a fan of Jonathan Carroll's work. I've read and loved several of his novels, but not for a while. Ghost in Love has all the classic Carroll's elements, great writing, small scale but gepic love story and plenty of magic/weirdness. Actually, with this story I think there might have been too much of the latter, possibly overwhelming the formers. Although it all made sense in the way Carroll's books usually do, it was almost a bit too convoluted or overly complicated. The story itself was great, sort of like a study on what love is and how it works and how we perceive it and how it affects and changes us. From that perspective it really worked. There were a bit too many times at which disbelief had to be suspended so much that it tipped the balance of magic realism just about all the way into magic. Good thing there was always terrific writing and compelling characters to ground the story. Pilot, in particular, was just awesome. 3.5 stars. Recommended. Review revision After thinking about the book a lot, I've decided to go ahead and upgrade my review to 4 stars. Any book that stays with the reader after it's finished and put away deserves an upgrade. I think I really really liked the way Carroll describes how multifaceted everyone is and how we love and hate and have to live with and make peace with every aspect of ourselves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Highly recommend! What a wonderful imagination this author has! Whatever you think this book is about, it's full of surprises. This is a book about love, including self-love. It's about accepting all parts of yourself- all of your different selves. This is a great book for dog lovers too- dogs play a wonderful role in this story. This is one of those books which I will never forget. I can't wait to read more of this author's novels. Highly recommend! What a wonderful imagination this author has! Whatever you think this book is about, it's full of surprises. This is a book about love, including self-love. It's about accepting all parts of yourself- all of your different selves. This is a great book for dog lovers too- dogs play a wonderful role in this story. This is one of those books which I will never forget. I can't wait to read more of this author's novels.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jerri Brissette

    I would call this a mind twister. You think your headed down a path toward something and suddenly your brain is twisted around and you're yanked off into some other unknown. Yes, it's weird, but once you stop resisting, you'll be much happier. I would call this a mind twister. You think your headed down a path toward something and suddenly your brain is twisted around and you're yanked off into some other unknown. Yes, it's weird, but once you stop resisting, you'll be much happier.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The Ghost in Love is a bizarre page-turner that breaks all the rules of death and ghosts as we know them. According to Jonathan Carroll, God decided to create ghosts only because people believed in them anyway and they seemed like a good idea. Their purpose would be to tie up loose ends after a person died. Strangely, the ghost wouldn't have to look like the person they belonged to since they operated on a plane of existence where they could only been seen by other ghosts and by animals. Ling is The Ghost in Love is a bizarre page-turner that breaks all the rules of death and ghosts as we know them. According to Jonathan Carroll, God decided to create ghosts only because people believed in them anyway and they seemed like a good idea. Their purpose would be to tie up loose ends after a person died. Strangely, the ghost wouldn't have to look like the person they belonged to since they operated on a plane of existence where they could only been seen by other ghosts and by animals. Ling is Ben's ghost. Except ... Ben didn't die when he was fated to die and he starts to be able to have conversations with his own ghost. In fact, all around the world, people are refusing to die when the Angel of Death comes to collect them. These people find that cheating death gives them ghostly powers as well as other powers like being able to see through someone else's eyes and time travel into one's own past. I did enjoy how this novel had me thinking about the best parts in my life. If I had the ability to relive the best moments of my life, which ones would I choose? It's nice to read a novel every now and then that transports you not only into the story but also into your own nostalgic memories. I'm not sure why the title of this novel is The Ghost in Love since that seems to be such a small part of the story. Ling (Ben's ghost) does fall in love with Ben's girlfriend and does woo her by cooking her a magnificent ghost breakfast that she can't see. But this strange love triangle seems like such an insignificant part of the story as a whole. Mis-titled or not, this is one of my favorite reads of the year. If you're going to choose one bizarre fantasy novel to read this year, choose The Ghost in Love. And then set aside an entire day to read it because you're not going to want to put it down until you're finished with it. Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Moving from reading the Twilight Saga to The Ghost in Love was a bit like going from Rocks for Jocks to Particle Physics. Even after sleeping on it for a night, I'm not sure I understand all of this book. I do think Carroll writes very creatively about issues central to what it means to be human. In fact, the entire book is a metaphor about the choices we face, the various facets of who we are that drive our decisions and how our relationships can impact those choices. Near the end, he wonderfull Moving from reading the Twilight Saga to The Ghost in Love was a bit like going from Rocks for Jocks to Particle Physics. Even after sleeping on it for a night, I'm not sure I understand all of this book. I do think Carroll writes very creatively about issues central to what it means to be human. In fact, the entire book is a metaphor about the choices we face, the various facets of who we are that drive our decisions and how our relationships can impact those choices. Near the end, he wonderfully illustrates how certain negative aspects of ourselves will always resist happiness and will fight against what is best for us. It was intriguing to see fear, weakness, vengeance and spite portrayed as people living within a person. Even more interesting is the realization that each of these do live within us, but we have the choice as to whether we will listen to them or fight them. I found it encouraging to read Carroll's vision of how those who love you can fight these aspects of your character for you and even more encouraging to think that as a Christian, I not only have the love of those here to combat my flaws, but God's love. Carroll is a talented writer. There are passages sprinkled throughout the book that are profound and thought-provoking. Even with these jewels to wait for, this book is not an easy read. While I found it worthwhile to read it and was inspired by his writing, I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for a quick, fun and/or easy read. If you like an element of science fiction, are willing to not fully understand every detail of a story and want to read a thought provoking look at our existence, then give this book a try.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    How did I take so damn long to read this?? And by that, I mean that I have owned it for nearly two years, and I kept reading the first three pages then putting it down; I knew I wanted to pay attention, to read every word, to drown myself in the story, and I guess I haven't had the concentration for that until now. Admittedly, I read most of this at work at the library, where I should have been concentrating on work, and it became jarring to have to put it down and actually assist the patrons. I How did I take so damn long to read this?? And by that, I mean that I have owned it for nearly two years, and I kept reading the first three pages then putting it down; I knew I wanted to pay attention, to read every word, to drown myself in the story, and I guess I haven't had the concentration for that until now. Admittedly, I read most of this at work at the library, where I should have been concentrating on work, and it became jarring to have to put it down and actually assist the patrons. I am not usually a fast reader, but I always fly through Jonathan Carroll's stories. Though I follow his blog, I do not know his exact process for writing a new novel. Still, having read so many of his previous books, I wonder if he doesn't find some phrase or image that he likes (sometimes from another story he's written) and craft an entire book around that, just to see it in print. For The Ghost in Love, maybe the phrase was "the mutt muttered mutinously"? I have no doubt that I will have to buy the paperback now and re-read it, because I do not like to make margin notes in my hardcover books, and there are SO MANY scenes and phrases I wanted to underline. In short, I loved it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    CD

    I love this book. It started when I read the recommendation for the book from one of Nancy Pearl's columns where she quoted from page 171 "A man, a dog, and two understandably disgruntled women were walking down a sidewalk. One woman was a ghost, the man should have been dead, the dog was the reincarnation of the should-have-been-dead's girlfriend, and the last, the tall woman, was an innocent bystander who had the bad fortune of loving two of the others." HOw can you not fall in love with a boo I love this book. It started when I read the recommendation for the book from one of Nancy Pearl's columns where she quoted from page 171 "A man, a dog, and two understandably disgruntled women were walking down a sidewalk. One woman was a ghost, the man should have been dead, the dog was the reincarnation of the should-have-been-dead's girlfriend, and the last, the tall woman, was an innocent bystander who had the bad fortune of loving two of the others." HOw can you not fall in love with a book where the writing is so lovely and quirky and the story so strange and compelling? It starts off with a bang and and it just keeps the pace at full throttle. It is a bit of a fantasy novel, love story, dog story, philosophical musing. It is a bit of all of those things and yet the whole is much more. It is an entrancing read. Enjoyable down to the last drop. So much so, that you slow down as you approach the end of the book, hoping that perhaps you can make this one last just a bit longer. And I do look at my dog differently. After all, dogs can see ghosts and ghosts can speak dog. But then I always knew that. Didn't you? Read the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Walters

    The title of this book does not really describe the book....it has a little bit of a plot line about a ghost in love but otherwise it is a book about humans taking charge of their lives and not dying when their time has come. It was actually a very funny book with a bunch of fleeting bizarre characters that were each very quirky and entertaining. Ben and German are very likable characters, and Pilot the dog is wonderful... It is a pretty complex story so you really should pay attention but you wil The title of this book does not really describe the book....it has a little bit of a plot line about a ghost in love but otherwise it is a book about humans taking charge of their lives and not dying when their time has come. It was actually a very funny book with a bunch of fleeting bizarre characters that were each very quirky and entertaining. Ben and German are very likable characters, and Pilot the dog is wonderful... It is a pretty complex story so you really should pay attention but you will be rewarded with snarky comments and remarks that will tend to make you chuckle......the story will also get you caught up in thinking about what exactly was the most prolific and important moment in your life....the one you favor the most....then deciding if you would actually want to stay in that moment forever. If you are looking for a story about a ghost that is in love or a paranormal romance....this really isn't that type of book. If you are looking for some very funny moments with some crazy people and animals.....then this is the book for you. I ended up enjoying this book much more than I thought I would.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fox

    The world is going crazy. Ben Gould was meant to die at a certain time, and yet he didn't. The angels can't figure out what's going to happen next, and neither can Ling, Ben's ghost. Ben, clueless to his own significance, is just trying to figure out what to do now that he and his girlfriend German have broken up. Welcome to The Ghost in Love. Like all of Jonathan Carroll's books, this one begins with a brilliantly strange premise, and goes crazy. Unlike what I've read of Jonathan Carroll thus fa The world is going crazy. Ben Gould was meant to die at a certain time, and yet he didn't. The angels can't figure out what's going to happen next, and neither can Ling, Ben's ghost. Ben, clueless to his own significance, is just trying to figure out what to do now that he and his girlfriend German have broken up. Welcome to The Ghost in Love. Like all of Jonathan Carroll's books, this one begins with a brilliantly strange premise, and goes crazy. Unlike what I've read of Jonathan Carroll thus far, it is very controlled, beautifully deliberate, and what unfurls from the very first page builds throughout the novel. The attention to detail is stunning, the prose is delicious, and the book is as satisfying at the last page as it is at the start. I recommend this book to anyone who is intrigued by the premise, and more, to anyone who enjoys a well designed story. The structure, while linear, is not chronological and the book is interesting on a technical level. Moreover, the book will make you /feel good/ and wholly satisfied. Or, at least it made me feel that way.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Jonathan Carroll holds a strange place in my heart. I have to say that none of his books of the last decade have pulled me in the way his early books did, but I still wait for them eagerly, and read them with relish. Somewhere in the middle, they start to leave me cold. He explores similar territory in different ways. There are many elements of his previous books evident, but it has lost a little bit of charm for me. I can't quite put my finger on it. The characters are well developed, and likea Jonathan Carroll holds a strange place in my heart. I have to say that none of his books of the last decade have pulled me in the way his early books did, but I still wait for them eagerly, and read them with relish. Somewhere in the middle, they start to leave me cold. He explores similar territory in different ways. There are many elements of his previous books evident, but it has lost a little bit of charm for me. I can't quite put my finger on it. The characters are well developed, and likeable, but I find myself distanced (except for the dog, oddly). The book sort of feels like a series of vignettes: here's another brilliant visual, and another, and another. At the same time, they feel disjointed, and the conclusions the characters reach don't seem organic. Carroll deliberately breaks rules, and in doing so, leaves me feeling that I've missed something. Oh, well. I'll still read the next one, and the next.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    One of my very favorites by Jonathan Carroll, I think. I found this one much more hopeful and optimistic than some of his previous novels. His writing style does take some getting used to, as there's a lot of exposition that occurs all the way through the story, and sometimes he'll even disrupt the narrative flow to make a point directly to the reader, and that can be jarring. But in the end, it all comes down to something that's completely magical and strange and even absurd at times, but so th One of my very favorites by Jonathan Carroll, I think. I found this one much more hopeful and optimistic than some of his previous novels. His writing style does take some getting used to, as there's a lot of exposition that occurs all the way through the story, and sometimes he'll even disrupt the narrative flow to make a point directly to the reader, and that can be jarring. But in the end, it all comes down to something that's completely magical and strange and even absurd at times, but so thought-provoking and deep-reaching and universal -- something that's just Jonathan Carroll to me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Jonathan Carroll’s The Ghost in Love: A Novel is an odd book with a ghost (in love), a talking dog, and the Angel of Death (who can appear in any form he/it/? wants). It is whimsical and charming with a dash of creepiness. However, the book falls apart for me in the last two ridiculous, what-the-fuck-just-happened chapters of glaring “here’s the whole message of the novel so you dumbass readers don’t actually have to think and come to your own conclusions (which might differ from what I, the aut Jonathan Carroll’s The Ghost in Love: A Novel is an odd book with a ghost (in love), a talking dog, and the Angel of Death (who can appear in any form he/it/? wants). It is whimsical and charming with a dash of creepiness. However, the book falls apart for me in the last two ridiculous, what-the-fuck-just-happened chapters of glaring “here’s the whole message of the novel so you dumbass readers don’t actually have to think and come to your own conclusions (which might differ from what I, the author, want you to think.” I don’t know why the author even went to the bother of writing dialogue or constructing those last few scenes. He should have just written a paragraph spelling it all out, thus saving me (and other irritated readers) the time of reading those last painful fifty pages or so. Benjamin Gould fell on the sidewalk and conked his head on the concrete. He should have died. But he didn’t. To the surprise of the Angel of Death and everyone in Heaven, he lived. His being alive is blamed on Hell and their gifted techno-terrorists—they put a virus in Heaven’s computer system. So until Heaven can fix the technical glitch, the ghost that was created automatically when Ben was scheduled to die is sent to watch over the still-alive Ben. The ghost, who hates fieldwork, agrees to stay with still-alive Ben now, thus avoiding all that post-death haunting it would normally be required to do. Ben has a girlfriend at the time this happens, an art teacher named German Landis. The ghost spends its days watching over Ben, falling in love with German, and chatting with their dog, Pilot. When the book begins, this relationship is over and German and Ben share custody of Pilot. The ghost pines for German, creating delicious meals for her that she can neither see nor eat. Then one day Ben tells German about the weird things that began happening to him, how he thought he was losing his mind, and introduces her to Danielle, another woman who didn’t die when she was scheduled to (but didn’t receive a ghost). After that, things get even weirder. This is a weird book. Talking dogs, ghosts, monsters sent to kill Ben, a planetary animal alliance that any animal can evoke in times of great distress, the verze (magical, protective, sort-of dogs) and an Angel of Death who is a fan of Carole Lombard and enjoys pizza—it’s not my normal reading. But I enjoy weird, and if the world is convincing enough, I’ll stay with it. I don’t care for Ben, the main character and driving force of the book. I don’t really care for Danielle, supporting character. I like German and I like Pilot the dog. However, none of these characters is fully developed. They are there merely to tell the story. And when the story is kind of mysterious, with weird monsters and dead/un-dead people pursuing Ben and Danielle, it is compelling and enjoyable. Unnamed Enemies aren’t happy with Ben and Danielle still being alive; the system cannot be subverted: you die when you’re scheduled to die, end of story. Humans cannot choose their time of death. (Although, if you think about that, how many people actually do? That implies suicide and most of us don’t/won’t choose that path.) So these Enemies (devils from Hell?) want to kill Danielle and Ben, thus fixing the problem. So, while I wasn’t buying into the emerging philosophical premise of the book, I still wanted to see how it ended. It ends, quite frankly, with a whole bunch of stupid shit. (view spoiler)[Ben learns to face his fears and learns to command his new powers. He’s winning against the Unnamed Enemies who turn out to be….guess…Ben! Ben is his own worst enemy! In an utterly ridiculous final two chapters, all of Ben’s bad traits, his fear, his loneliness, his anger, his jealousy, etc., show up as physical people, all different (men, women, children, Asian, black, white) and fight him. They hate him for still being alive and want him to die. They’re all arguing about what they want. This scene devolves into some sort of physical comedy (although I wasn’t amused) with Ben fighting Stanley, the Angel of Death, and the different representations of himself fighting German and Pilot and the verze. It’s so stupid. Danielle sums up the obviousness of the last two chapters when she is lecturing Mr Spilke: “What people have to realize first is they’re not just one single person who does weird, out-of-character things now and then. We’re all made up of many different selves that fight and compete with one another constantly. We’ve got to somehow get them to agree on just a few basic things. Get them to stop fighting with one another. They all have different needs. One part of us wants safety, but another wants adventure. I want to be loved. I want to be loved…Those aren’t contradictions—they’re independent selves saying ‘I want this’! We’ve got to create some kind of United Nations inside ourselves” (290) People are a bundle of contradictions? Wow. That’s quite a mind-blowing theory. We don’t always act in our best self-interests? Another scary, holy-shit-that-never-occurred-to-me proposition. Ben also (on his very own) comes to this conclusion and takes it further. When one of the negative representations of himself drops dead during this confrontation (an Elvis impersonator who doubts German’s love for Ben), it’s replaced by a new worry. Ben realizes that (drum roll) we’ll never be without worries, so the best we can do is to learn to work with them. Then Danielle tells him that love will conquer all: “You were right: we’ll never get rid of all our bad sides and weaknesses, because there’ll always be new ones. But sometimes other people can rescue us from ourselves when we can’t. Not always, but sometimes. German and Pilot love you. Just by being in their lives, you gave them something fantastic and powerful. They used it now to save you from your demons. Sometimes, when we’re in love, we give the person things we don’t even know we’re giving” (302). So, to sum up: People are contradictory and full of bad thoughts and good thoughts. We’ll never get rid of all our bad thoughts and weaknesses. However, loving others and being loved gives us strength to conquer our demons and be our better selves. Wow. It’s not that the message is bad, but the author couldn’t have found a better way of expressing it without having his characters spell it out? The last two chapters are simply awful. I cringed while reading them. How do the “bad” Bens and the “good” Bens (as supplied by Pilot and German) call a truce? They (including Pilot, the verze and other assorted “good” dogs) go to a grocery store to buy food so Ben can cook them a delicious meal and while there they have a giant, hilarious, woo-hoo-isn’t-this-fun food fight. This food fight does include the ubiquitous pie-in-the-face and the running-into-a-tall-stack-of-assorted-snacks stunts. What fun! So when you’re having a bad day with all of your bad yous, take them to your local grocery store and slam a whipped cream pie into them/you. Wooo! (hide spoiler)] The stupid shit (revealed in the spoiler) has absolutely nothing to do with the system going haywire and humans being able to choose their own death. Nothing whatsoever. There’s also a lecture delivered by (again) Danielle in which she chastises the Angel of Death for trying to control human lives and decisions and she tells him that those rules don’t apply anymore, we don’t die according to his schedule, and he needs to stop meddling. Which again, aside from the death part, is not demonstrated in the book. What decisions do/did the AoD control? What did he meddle in? There’s a disconnect between the book’s plot and its conclusion. The conclusion does not satisfy the problem posed in the plot. Plus it’s stupid and so, so obvious. The Ghost in Love is an odd, entertaining book that devolves into overt authorial intrusion and mediocre writing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie Sandel

    As with all his novels, you begin one place and then proceed to go somewhere totally different. I have read all his novels, except Bathing the Lion which is next. His best books in my opinion : Land of Laughs, Wooden Sea, White Apples, and maybe Mountains of the Moon.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christina Stind

    I’ve had this novel on my shelves for a bit more than a year and I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I’ve read about several of Jonathan Carroll’s novels and they all sound amazing. In fact, they sound like I might have found a new favorite author. So this book was the test of this hypothesis – is Jonathan Carroll really as good as he sounds? From the beginning, I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be when a book starts with a conversation between a ghost and a dog, a conversation taking place whil I’ve had this novel on my shelves for a bit more than a year and I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I’ve read about several of Jonathan Carroll’s novels and they all sound amazing. In fact, they sound like I might have found a new favorite author. So this book was the test of this hypothesis – is Jonathan Carroll really as good as he sounds? From the beginning, I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be when a book starts with a conversation between a ghost and a dog, a conversation taking place while the ghost is cooking a meal for the woman it’s in love with – even though she can never see the meal? This is a novel about a man who falls on an icy street one day and suffers a fatal blow to the head – only he doesn’t die. This man, Benjamin Gould, is in love with a woman, German Landis. Together they have a dog, Pilot. These – and the ghost, Ling, are our main characters. Even though Ben and German are madly in love and both believe they have found the one, something happens between them and now, they’re are barely on speaking terms. If it wasn’t for Pilot, they would never speak to each other – but they have ‘joined custody’ over Pilot and so, they need to speak and meet. Ben is changed since the accident and he’s trying to find out why and what it is that has happened to him. Turns out, he’s not the only one something has happened to. Something similar happened to a woman named Danielle Voyles. Ben knows this because he somehow enters Danielle’s mind on occasions and experience what she’s experiencing. But why don’t people die when they suffer accidents that were supposed to kill them? Why is there a ghost around, sort of babysitting Ben? Who is the man that stabs The Angel of Death? I don’t want to say a lot about the plot since it all connects and since reading it and slowly getting to understand more and more about what has happened, is part of this novel’s main attraction. There are some amazing parts in this novel. I love that The Angel of Death manifests himself as someone’s finished meal of bacon and eggs. And that all ghosts have Chinese names because a Chinese farmer invented the idea of ghosts three thousands years ago to explain to his grandson what happens to people after they die, and since God thought it was such a useful idea, he had his angels make the concept real and now, all ghosts have Chinese names to honor the inventor. I also love the idea of ofi. Ofi was Ben’s childhood friend’s magical meal only for him. Ofi is ‘/…/ love and magic; it’s a kid’s imagination made real.’ (p. 87). The whole story of Ben and Gina reminds me of my daughter Ronja and her best friend, Kaiser, and the very special bond they have between them. I loved that this book had so much focus on animals. Of course Pilot is one of the main characters, but Carroll uses animals so well in this book. Dogs can all talk with each other and when a dog needs it, it can summon a guide to help it find it’s way. Dogs can see ghosts and when needed, animals can work together even though they despise each other if one animal formally issue a call for ‘universal peace to overcome chaos’. This happens very rarely and when it does, cats, rats and dogs can help each other out. This also means that all animals can communicate – they are able to speak both with their own species and with all other types of animals. I thought his way of integrating this into the storyline was excellent and I really enjoyed it. This novel makes you think. It touches on topics like personal identity, identity through time, the ontology of time, life and death and love and what it all means. It has some rather different views on these issues but in the end, it all comes down to behaving decently towards other people and staying true to yourself – rather simply put – as well as realizing that your past is a part of your present and influences the decisions you make on a everyday basis. What this novel did was to make me want to check out more novels by Jonathan Carroll. This was a good novel, although a bit too short for my taste. I read it over two days and I prefer my novels to last a little longer. But this was a really good short read so Jonathan Carroll is definitely still on my list of potential favorite authors.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Carroll does some very interesting and clever things with the ideas of ghosts and the afterlife, which, along with some great characters and a few moments of pure emotion, really is what I was hoping to get from this book, and I did. It was an interesting and thought-provoking journey, though I wouldn't say I agreed with the ideas put forth. The convoluted story had me guessing and turning pages. I liked the feel of this story -its world and its style- and with good plot and compelling characters Carroll does some very interesting and clever things with the ideas of ghosts and the afterlife, which, along with some great characters and a few moments of pure emotion, really is what I was hoping to get from this book, and I did. It was an interesting and thought-provoking journey, though I wouldn't say I agreed with the ideas put forth. The convoluted story had me guessing and turning pages. I liked the feel of this story -its world and its style- and with good plot and compelling characters, I can't complain. Carroll meshed so many ideas into his version of afterlife, life after death, and so on. There are ghosts, reincarnated beings, angels, all sorts of details pulled from all kinds of theology and ideas, plus several that Carroll made up himself. How he played with reality is probably what I enjoyed most with this story. We got to see a lot more about this world by being able to experience it through a variety of characters, including a ghost, the Angel of Death, and a dog, who all see different versions or facets of the same reality. It's fascinating. The writing style captivated me, pumped with emotion, and gently guiding me through the tale. Carroll makes me feel for these characters; better, he lets me feel through them. I see what they see, think what they think, feel what they feel. Any secrets kept from the reader pertain to the plot, not the characters, and I liked that. The book jumps around from scene to scene, character to character, feeding us relevant bits of the story, instead of staying with a specific character or even chronology. I really love this type of narration. It feels adventurous, daring, untamed. There were a few things I didn't like about this story: Several references to lesbianism, a few intimate and/or explicit details, and the underlying theme that -slight spoilers- man is outgrowing God. Or, more specifically, that mankind is evolving out of its need for God. I don't know if it was meant to be agnostic, atheistic, a moral or social commentary, or just a storytelling tool. That underlying theme made the story possible and interesting, so for the book it's thought-provoking, but I can't say I took any great meaning from this. For me, it was just an entertaining read. There are no plot threads left untied. The overall story could be considered open-ended, but there was enough closure provided for a satisfactory ending. Overall an entertaining and intriguing read, but I'd definitely consider The Ghost in Love a mature or PG-13 rating. Despite the bits I didn't like, the style, the writing, and the story were all so captivating that I'd still give Carroll's novels another try.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    I liked this novel a lot--I got sucked in from the first and read it in one sitting. It's not quite like anything I've read. Maybe the closest analogy is a modern prose version of Dante's Divine Comedy with a quirky sense of humor, a contemporary allegory of soul and psyche starring a man, Benjamin Gould, his girlfriend German Landis, their talking dog Pilot, and oh, yeah, Benjamin's ghost, Ling, living with Ben and in love with his girlfriend. And if that sounds whacky, hold on, because this st I liked this novel a lot--I got sucked in from the first and read it in one sitting. It's not quite like anything I've read. Maybe the closest analogy is a modern prose version of Dante's Divine Comedy with a quirky sense of humor, a contemporary allegory of soul and psyche starring a man, Benjamin Gould, his girlfriend German Landis, their talking dog Pilot, and oh, yeah, Benjamin's ghost, Ling, living with Ben and in love with his girlfriend. And if that sounds whacky, hold on, because this story goes places I didn't expect. At one point it seemed to veer so completely off I wondered if the author had any idea where he was going, and just decided to go off on a tear because he had no idea what to do next. Yet there was enough heart and humor in the book to keep reading, and it eventually makes a bizarro sense. Psychologically sharp and insightful in ways that made me really think about how it would apply to me if I were the protagonist in this novel. It felt a bit heavy handed and sentimental at points but ultimately moving--towards the end it had me teary-eyed and left me grinning.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Hruby

    Hmmm. I think I should have liked this one more than I did. It was quirky and dealt with existential ideas of identity and purpose--it had talking dogs and gourmet cooking ghosts and other fun twists and turns, but I guess I didn't buy everything Carroll was trying to teach. It was about a guy who falls and hits his head and is supposed to die, but doesn't. This intrigues the Angel of Death, who monitors him, along with his ghost, who try to find out why the rules were broken and what might happ Hmmm. I think I should have liked this one more than I did. It was quirky and dealt with existential ideas of identity and purpose--it had talking dogs and gourmet cooking ghosts and other fun twists and turns, but I guess I didn't buy everything Carroll was trying to teach. It was about a guy who falls and hits his head and is supposed to die, but doesn't. This intrigues the Angel of Death, who monitors him, along with his ghost, who try to find out why the rules were broken and what might happen next. There were parts that reminded me of the current facebook craze--that ability to reconnect with people in your past and revisit memories of our past selves. I agree with one of the main premises that the past is an important part of who we are today, but some of the other more "empowering" ideas were a little bit much for me. I also got annoyed by the confusing way this book starts--only half telling you something and then jumping to something else. Some people might enjoy solving a cryptic puzzle that way. I found it off-putting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    Maybe as a hard-core reader of science fiction and fantasy I should have learned by now to run away from the words "magic realism." Maybe I should have started with a different Carroll book. Maybe I'm grumpy because I have a cold. I was steered to this as a witty, funny exploration of a what-if concept. It is that, for about 2/3 of the book. For the rest of the way, I kept thinking of a balloon that was blown up and then released: pbbblllfffffttt! and limpness. (view spoiler)[All that complexity Maybe as a hard-core reader of science fiction and fantasy I should have learned by now to run away from the words "magic realism." Maybe I should have started with a different Carroll book. Maybe I'm grumpy because I have a cold. I was steered to this as a witty, funny exploration of a what-if concept. It is that, for about 2/3 of the book. For the rest of the way, I kept thinking of a balloon that was blown up and then released: pbbblllfffffttt! and limpness. (view spoiler)[All that complexity and wit and intertwining and interesting characters, and just as the tension is peaking we end up with "he's YOU, Ben. They are all you. We are all made up of our past selves and the people we met. Ommmmm. Look for the true meaning, grasshopper. If you love it, let it go. Choose the blue pill. Sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much. Rod McKuen. Ick. " (hide spoiler)] Pfui. Gag. Your mileage may vary, and I hope you enjoy the book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chrystal Hays

    I'm a big fan of Jonathan Carroll, but this was not up to the level I expect. The beginning is charmingly chaotic, and Carroll's attention to detail is adept at triggering my own memories of times, places, smells, emotions, and entire segments of life. The ironic, humorous undertones are there and things progress at a nice clip. Sadly, the last part of the book feels contrived and has the same feel as an after-school special. I had the impression that he wanted to make a statement about humanity I'm a big fan of Jonathan Carroll, but this was not up to the level I expect. The beginning is charmingly chaotic, and Carroll's attention to detail is adept at triggering my own memories of times, places, smells, emotions, and entire segments of life. The ironic, humorous undertones are there and things progress at a nice clip. Sadly, the last part of the book feels contrived and has the same feel as an after-school special. I had the impression that he wanted to make a statement about humanity before he wrote the book, and that the book was created as a vehicle. Not to say that this cannot work..it can, and does, in many cases. Just felt heavy-handed here. Perhaps it was rushed? I'm not giving up on this author by any means, just do not feel this is the best we have seen from him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Smith

    I read 'The Land of Laughs' and gave that five stars. I did not find this one as good. The ideas are there, but I don't think he did enough with them. The characters seem a bit undeveloped to use the ideas to full effect. German is an interesting character at first but Carroll doesn't seem to do much with her after the first 30 pages. Neither does the 'ghost' of the title seem to play much significant part in the story after that time, unless the title has some broader symbolic meaning. I'd hoped I read 'The Land of Laughs' and gave that five stars. I did not find this one as good. The ideas are there, but I don't think he did enough with them. The characters seem a bit undeveloped to use the ideas to full effect. German is an interesting character at first but Carroll doesn't seem to do much with her after the first 30 pages. Neither does the 'ghost' of the title seem to play much significant part in the story after that time, unless the title has some broader symbolic meaning. I'd hoped Ben would be an interestingly flawed character, but found him just too nice - unlike Thomas Abbey in 'Land of Laughs' who was a bit of a bastard - in a good way. Abbey was a more well rounded character. I feel that the idea was there but he could have done more with it. I'm still interested in reading more of Carroll's work.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marne Wilson

    Most of the time I like only the first two thirds of Jonathan Carroll novels and then get confused or turned off by the last third. This book is a rarity, because I liked only the final third. The difference is that instead of starting us out in the real world and gradually letting the nuttiness happen, in this book Carroll plunges us into a series of improbable events from the beginning. (As another reviewer has said here, I had a strong suspicion that he was making things up as he went along.) Most of the time I like only the first two thirds of Jonathan Carroll novels and then get confused or turned off by the last third. This book is a rarity, because I liked only the final third. The difference is that instead of starting us out in the real world and gradually letting the nuttiness happen, in this book Carroll plunges us into a series of improbable events from the beginning. (As another reviewer has said here, I had a strong suspicion that he was making things up as he went along.) Only in the end when he started imposing a moral structure did things make sense. Even that was unsatisfying, because having characters give long philosophical speeches to each other hasn't really worked since the Book of Job. For once I can say that I knew exactly what Carroll was trying to say, but I'm not satisfied with how he got us there.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    When you're relieved that a book is over, that's a bad sign. I was really hooked at the beginning - the premise was intriguing and the characters promising, and it seemed like my kind of off-beat. A lot of the narrative observations struck a chord, and I was settling in and preparing to really enjoy myself. But then - I'm not sure what happened. The plot got too far fetched, the characters stopped feeling like living, breathing people, and everything felt sacrificed to the premise. I took a brea When you're relieved that a book is over, that's a bad sign. I was really hooked at the beginning - the premise was intriguing and the characters promising, and it seemed like my kind of off-beat. A lot of the narrative observations struck a chord, and I was settling in and preparing to really enjoy myself. But then - I'm not sure what happened. The plot got too far fetched, the characters stopped feeling like living, breathing people, and everything felt sacrificed to the premise. I took a break from listening and almost didn't come back to it. You know the guideline about trying the first 50 pages and giving up if you're not hooked? I was hooked alright, but then it lost me. Disappointing.

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