Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fantastic Death

I'm reading a new novel by Jonathan Carroll called The Ghost in Love that deals with the aftermath of a man not dying when he should, in a fantastical way. A representative of the angel of death is left in limbo, hanging out on Earth, waiting for him to die. In the meantime, this ghost in limbo falls in love with the man's ex-girlfriend, hence the title of the book. I've just started the novel, but so far, it is full of humor and the most beautiful, non-saccharine sentimentality.

Here's an excerpt that I particularly like:
"She fell in love easily but walked away just as easily from a relationship when it went bad. Some men—and there had been many of them—thought this showed she was coldhearted, but they were wrong. German Landis simply didn't understand people who moped. Life was too interesting to choose suffering. Although she got a big kick out of him, she thought her brother Guy, was goofy for spending his life writing songs only about things that either stank or sucked. In response, he drew a pictue of what her gravestone would look like if he designed it: a big yellow smiley face on it and the words I LIKE BEING DEAD!
Little did either of them know that she would like it when her time came to die, years later. German Landis would move into death as she'd moved into new schoos, relationships, or phases of her life: full speed ahead, hopes ahoy, heart filled like a sail with reasonalbe optimism and belief that the gods were fundamentally benevolent, no mater where she was."

I love the notion that Carroll is presenting here that personality and attitude in life can carry over in to the way a person moves into death. It makes for a fun, life-affirming—and death-affirming for that matter—narrative.

Alan Cheuse gave a poignant review of this novel, and nobel winner Jose Saramago's novel Death with Interruptions, which has recently been tranlated into English. That book is also on my list or to-reads.

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