Have you ever read a review of a book that sticks with you so fully that even two years later you can still remember the title of the book and what part of the review made you want to read the book?
That’s what happened with Jonathan Carroll’s book The Ghost in Love, which first got on my radar almost exactly two years ago when a college friend, Ben, who has great tasted in all sorts of books posted a glowingly crazy-sounding review of the book. Every time I’ve got to a used bookstore since then, I’ve gone to the “C” section to see if there are any of Carroll’s books to experiment with.
I found a copy of The Ghost in Love on a trip this summer, and I am so glad that particular review stuck with me because this was a nutty and awesome book.
The Ghost in Love starts with a relatively simple premise:
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.
Honestly, I’d prefer just to send you over to Ben’s review because he sums up the book and my reaction to it more perfectly than I think I will be able to. But I’ll do my best to say something useful in case you decide not to follow my advice and keep reading here.
There are so many pieces of the plot and moments when you can tell Carroll is trying to make A Big Point About Life and Fate and Our Place in the Universe that the story sometimes feels a little out of control. But it’s the good sort of out of control, or at least it was for me. I liked that the book was smart without sacrificing character development or emotional connections and thinky without being hard to read. It just hit all sorts of good notes with me, even if it was more than a little crazy-pants by the end.
If you want another really good review, I’d suggest this one by Fyrefly over at Fyrefly’s Book Blog, which also talks eloquently about the mix of really beautiful Truths with lots of other strange, strange stuff.