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Requiem [Mass Market Paperback]

Graham Joyce
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27 2006
SACRED MYSTERIES

Following the death of his wife, Tom Webster travels to Jerusalem in search of a friend from his college days. But the haunted city, divided by warring religious groups, offers him no refuge from guilt and grief.

As he wanders through the streets and the archaeological sites, a mysterious old woman appears to him, delivering messages that seem beyond comprehension. Then a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, kept hidden by an elderly innkeeper, appears to offer the key to understanding the woman's pronouncements.

Perhaps the spirit of Mary Magdelene is trying to reveal to Tom the hidden history of the Resurrection. And perhaps the truth is even stranger…

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From Amazon

"The city is like a fractured mirror: you can see yourself, but you get a shock at how it comes back to you. "The city is contemporary Jerusalem, described in all the richness of its walls and gardens, shrines and religions--ancient dust, olive trees, the smell of falafel oil and balsam, mysterious writing on crumbling stones. The man who comes to find (or lose) himself there is a schoolteacher from England who quit his job in the aftermath of his wife's tragic death and a fuss about his possible involvement with a student. Graham Joyce weaves an absorbing tale about friends and lovers tugging at the delicate strands of ancient mysteries with both Islamic mythological and Christian religious elements. Requiem has ghosts, demons ("djinns"), doppelgängers, crazy people, and passionate main characters; it is a well-constructed dark novel, only flawed slightly by a listless ending. Winner of the 1996 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Though his Dark Sister (1992) won a British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Joyce is only now making his Stateside debut with this impressive novel that was first published last year in Britain. Here, Joyce takes full advantage of the ready-to-hand exoticism of modern Jerusalem, using the city's density as a catalyst for an absorbing fantasy that's grounded in strong characterization. Fleeing his (only semi-explained) guilt after the senseless, accidental death of his wife, Tom Webster quits teaching and visits his longtime friend and ex-lover, Sharon, in Jerusalem. Soon, he is haunted by hallucinations?or perhaps they're apparitions or djinnis?and is entrusted with some Dead Sea scroll fragments. Joyce's Jerusalem is suffused with squalor and splendor, religious meaning and political struggle, as Tom tries to figure out what a host of emissaries from both the natural and the supernatural realms are trying to tell him about the world and about himself. The conclusion leans a bit too much on the purely personal, as if all the weighty history and symbolism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were meaningful only as the key to one man's soul. Still, this is high-quality fantasy that at last puts Joyce on the American map.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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They were helping a party get out of hand, an end-of-term blowout thrown by a teaching colleague during Tom's probationary year. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and ambiguous, like life itself Jan. 26 2003
Format:Paperback
Graham Joyce came highly recommended by Jonathan Carroll, and that's enough recommendation for me to read a phone book. Requiem, Joyce's fourth novel and the first to be published in the U.S., is a quirky book, written in a weirdly flowing style that I associate with several of today's British authors (Mary Gentle is the author that comes to mind immediately, although shades of Geoff Ryman and Greg Egan are also present). This style is achieved partly through the use of dialogue as a method for moving plot, wherein elements to the story are told by the characters, but almost as a short story told by the narrator to the other characters. The other major element to this style is the use of blind switchbacks (or red herrings) in the plot, and a willingness to "leave out" information, that the reader must fill in by putting together narrator comments, dialogue, and a good guess. In Gentle's case, I can't take this style--she does it to such an extent or I am such a fast reader that I miss the subtle implications and quickly get lost as to what is actually happening. Joyce only does it somewhat, reserving it for the secrets that surround his narrator.
Requiem is about guilt. The trick is to determine exactly what guilt. Tom's wife Katie dies in a freak traffic accident--her car is smashed by a fallen tree--so Tom quits his job as a teacher and travels to Jerusalem. Although it's been six months, he still has strange feelings about his wife's death, much more than just the natural ones of mourning and loss. There's also something not quite right at the school, helping him make the decision to leave for awhile. In Jerusalem, he connects with an old college friend, Sharon, who is working for a women's counseling center. Along the way he befriends an old man who runs a hostel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intense March 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Requiem" is a book that successfully weaves strands of the supernatural into the mundane, everyday world. In my opinion, this is what makes it so different...and so special.
The story begins when Kate Webster is killed as she returns home from church. He husband, Tom, is stricken with both intense grief and, though blameless, intense guilt. Although he attempts to carry on with his teaching, he finds each day harder and harder; he eventually quits and, instead, plans an overdue trip to Jeruselem where he visits his long time friend and confidante, Sharon.
At first, Tom is entranced with Jeruselem. Everything there seems to hold some spiritual significance, and, for Tom, at least, Jerusalem is a city of myth as well as religion. But Tom came to Jerusalem to escape the torment of Kate's death and, instead of escape, he finds that the hauntings he experienced in England have only intensified in Jerusalem. Tom can't decide if he is becoming the victim of an apparition or the victim of insanity. But there is one thing he knows for sure: the apparitions that torment him in the Holy City are always of the female gender.
When a chance meeting places fragments of a Dead Sea Scroll in Tom's hands he is, of course, intrigued. An exact translation is an impossibility, of course, but Tom does locate a demon-plagued scholar who attributes the scroll to none other than Mary Magdalene and informs Tom that it contains an alternate story of Christ's crucifixtion.
Despite the above, "Requiem" is definitely not a mystery. It is, rather, a study of the effects of guilt on the human psyche, for Tom Webster is a man riddled with guilt...both deserved and undeserved.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Is personal revelation equal to being mad? Sept. 16 2000
Format:Paperback
Requiem is a stronger novel than Dreamside (which I previously read), which shows the author's writing skills are improving as he continues to write. This novel was a tense one, despite very little action. It is a heady novel, one that explores the inner landscape of the mind and emotions. The book often forces the reader to ask what is real and what is not...and if there is truly a difference. I enjoyed this book particularly for this exploration. It aptly shows the results of a life unexamined. The protagonist Tom has only recently come to grips with his life following the accidental death of his wife. As he is confronted with many unresolved feelings he begins to question his sanity--for he is plagued with strange visions of Mary Magdalene and recurring flashbacks of past events. Guilt and anger are only the most obvious emotions that fuels the drive of this book. The book asks, what would happen if all those unresolved things in our lives took form and haunted us.
There is little to critique about this novel. The story was engaging, the characters very real and fully dimensional. I think it was because of the the realist portrayl of the characters that makes this book so powerful. Because the people feel real, it is easier to believe the events occurring in the novel may be real. Who knows perhaps there is something to the Magdalene theory...I already believe we are all haunted by our own personal djinn! As a previous reviewer had mentioned, Joyce's style is very similar to Johnathan Carroll's. If you enjoy Carroll you may very well enjoy Joyce's writing. If you haven't read anything by Carroll, do it! Try From the the Teeth of Angels...or the Panic Hand.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply brilliant....
As you get older, it becomes a rare thing indeed to stumble across an author who reignites the passion for reading that you had as a youth. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by troy w folsom
5.0 out of 5 stars Only 5 stars? :-)
Unfortunately, the rating system limits me to five, or I would get really extravagant... An excellent novel with well-drawn, multi-dimensional characters, and a fascinating... Read more
Published on July 26 2001 by Anthrophile
2.0 out of 5 stars WHERE WAS THE FOCUS? JERUSALEM? SCROLL FRAGMENTS?
Blech. A bunch of psychobabble about some guy's unresolved feelings of guilt over his wife's death. Read more
Published on March 7 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique story
I enjoyed the first half of this book but, started getting bored with the characters half way through. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, interesting, very well written...wonderful!
A very unusual story line that flits back and forth between UK and Jerusalem. The story line is a bit on the edge but thanks to Mr. Read more
Published on Dec 29 1999 by Mister Black
5.0 out of 5 stars Great almost to the end
The main effect of this book on me was to make me search for alternative historical interpretations of the Gospels. Read more
Published on Dec 29 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Finaly a book worth looking for
Dark fantasy? Horror? Whatever! Joyce is the name you should remember. Probably the best book of 'magic realism' of the 90s. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling...this book brings the imagination to its knees...
This book is an amazing twist of fantasy and realism -- leaving the reader truly changed -- not just a book to force one to question the historical accounts of religion, but I was... Read more
Published on Dec 16 1998 by duende@aloha.net
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