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From the Teeth of Angels [Paperback]

Jonathan Carroll
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1995
A dying man can suddenly raise the dead...Death  visits a vacationer in a dream, ready to make a  deal...An actress abruptly walks out on her fast-lane  life in Hollywood--and their fates converge in  Jonathan Carroll's daring imagination.

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Product Description

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars another wild ride June 7 2000
Format:Hardcover
I'm on a quest to find all of Carroll's books -- he's the most amazing writer I know. I had never read this one and was lucky enough to find a copy. Like he does in all his books, he does a great job creating funky characters, wild plots and exotic settings (or at least Vienna and Venice). I like the premise of the book: that death can take the form of anyone you know and if he likes you, you die well, but if he doesn't, you suffer. As usual, Carroll makes you really think about your own life and consider deeper issues. There are some bone chilling scenes when one of the characters realizes that the love of her life is just death playing a role to lure her in. It creeped me out for hours. As I'd say with any Carroll book, find it and read it. This book was a bit rougher than some of his novels -- he tries to hold together 3 strands of plot that sometimes seem like they will fall apart, but ultimately, he does manage to tie them all together. A minor complaint though. It's not his very best, but it's still damn good.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having read several other of Jonathan Carroll's books ("The Land of Laughs", "Bones of the Moon", "Sleeping in Flame"), I had some idea of what to expect: a deceptively breezy style masking some genuine chills, ordinary people in a realistic, intriguing plot whose supernatural elements are gradually revealed, references to characters from his other novels for those in the know.
"From the Teeth of Angels" does include all these. Unfortunately, it does not live up to Carroll's previous work. The chills are isolated and do not build up to a suspenseful climax. The plot starts out quite intriguingly, but fritters away into tired romance and metaphysics, leaving several points unresolved at the end. The two main characters (a beautiful movie star and a gay kiddie TV host) are largely undeveloped and incredibly goody-goody, as well as independently wealthy. Several minor characters are introduced only to vanish almost completely from the story. And enough of Vienna already!
Nevertheless, "From the Teeth of Angels" is worth reading. It has some memorable scenes, and it raises some thought-provoking ideas (even if it failed to follow through on them to the extent I would have liked). But if you're not already a Jonathan Carroll fan, I'd recommend starting with either "The Land of Laughs" or "Bones of the Moon" rather than this
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5.0 out of 5 stars From the Teeth of Death June 11 2001
Format:Paperback
While not as pleasant a read as Carroll's BONES OF THE MOON, FROM THE TEETH OF ANGELS is one of Carroll's best-written novels. A friend couldn't finish it because the protagonist is stricken with AIDS and has friends facing death as well. One of the more interesting devices is Death as a character, and the portrayal isn't the usual, somewhat flattering picture. Carroll shows death as petty, a liar and cheat. While not an easy book to read, it is immensely rewarding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Addicted fo carroll April 30 1999
Format:Paperback
This book addicted me to searching for Jonathan Carroll's books forever. After Silence and Sleeping in Flames cemented the addiction :)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendant! Aug. 27 2004
By Clare Howell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Occasionally a novel speaks to fundamental issues that transcend insight and enjoyment. This one did it for me. I don't like Sci-Fi or fantasy, but Carroll's work tears the fabric of reality and goes to one's unexpressible fear and longing to address primal concerns, not unlike the effect fairy tales have on children. Yet he does it in a world where the natural laws as I understand them apply.

Death is a character here and becomes frighteningly real but, miraculously, we're offered a way to triumph over him, if only for a time. And the way is as simple as child's play... literally.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the Teeth of Angles Nov. 5 2000
By Wildness - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Does Death have more power over us than we have have over Death? This is the question Carroll tries to answer in this great book.

When we near the ends of our lives, sometimes Death allows us to ask questions of him, but beware what you ask because if you don't understand the answer it will cost you... And possibly the people around you. This is the story of Ian McGann, a travel agent from London; Wyatt, aka Finky Linky the TV clown of children's hearts; Sophie, the widow and best friend of Wyatt who drags him to Europe as he is dying of leukemia; Arlen Ford, the retired actress who left her career at it's peak to live in Vienna; Rose, her best friend; Sophie's brother and sister-in-law. Death enters their lives in different ways and it comes around full circle as their stories intertwine when a photojournalist takes a break from Yugoslavia and visits Vienna and leads to the understanding of who we really are.

Carroll's prose brings these peoples' lives into your life and as is usually the case with his books, we leave with a new insight to ourselves.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

A Guide to my Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another wild ride June 7 2000
By M. H. Bayliss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm on a quest to find all of Carroll's books -- he's the most amazing writer I know. I had never read this one and was lucky enough to find a copy. Like he does in all his books, he does a great job creating funky characters, wild plots and exotic settings (or at least Vienna and Venice). I like the premise of the book: that death can take the form of anyone you know and if he likes you, you die well, but if he doesn't, you suffer. As usual, Carroll makes you really think about your own life and consider deeper issues. There are some bone chilling scenes when one of the characters realizes that the love of her life is just death playing a role to lure her in. It creeped me out for hours. As I'd say with any Carroll book, find it and read it. This book was a bit rougher than some of his novels -- he tries to hold together 3 strands of plot that sometimes seem like they will fall apart, but ultimately, he does manage to tie them all together. A minor complaint though. It's not his very best, but it's still damn good.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious work that manages to do both its ideas and its characters right April 22 2012
By Josh Mauthe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One certainly can't fault From the Teeth of Angels for its ambition. After all, here's a novel that takes on nothing less than the very nature of death itself - why it happens, what it means, and more. More to the point, it does so in a relatively short length, and while creating vivid characters whose arcs are genuinely involving and moving. The initial premise, though - that's where you start to realize that you're reading something of immense ambition and scope (in a metaphysical sense). That premise: there are those who meet Death in their dreams, and as is human nature, want to ask him questions. But asking questions of Death comes with a heavy price for those who don't understand his answers, not the least of which are horrific scars and wounds. That's a phenomenal enough idea for a single book, but instead, Carroll mixes in two parallel stories of people dealing with changes in their life. The first is a former children's television host now facing a terminal disease; the other a beloved actress who has begun to reappraise her life and has met a man who has changed the way she sees everything. Carroll slides from point of view to point of view effortlessly, creating characters full of flaws, strengths, self-delusions, and fears that are both particular to the characters and oddly universal, But more than that, he beautifully weaves all of this together into something complex and profound, creating a climax that both concludes the characters' stories and yet also grapples with ideas about the very nature of the world and our existence. From the Teeth of Angels is my first exposure to Carroll, but you can rest assured that it won't be my last; from his beautiful prose to his strong characters, from his fascinating ideas to his simple but effective plotting, From the Teeth of Angels is a phenomenal piece of fiction, and its cosmology and perspective are moving in a way you may not expect. I'm going to have to dig more into Carroll; if this is any indication, I'm excited about reading the rest of his works.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite novel May 20 2009
By McOliveto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you haven't experienced a Jonathan Carroll novel yet, this is the one to start with. It is not only my favorite book by him, but it is my all time favorite. This is one of those that I wish I could give an extra star to as 5 stars doesn't even capture how truelly wonderful this book is.

It's hard to say what this book is about without giving away the story line. But basically, Death visits people in dreams and has conversations with them that affect their living lives. Not only is the plot an attention getter, but the ending is an amazing, thought provoking idea that still sticks with me 15 years later.

J. Carroll's books are not what I would call literary poetry, but rather visionary poetry. His books should be exprienced by all, especially this one.
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