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Showing 1-10 of 17 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on September 20, 2003
Not your usual run-of-the-mill novel, Sleeping in Flame will win your heart with its delightful blend of romance and humor. But then, people who at first glance seem strikingly glamorous turn...well, weird. This book and its author have the potential of developing a cult following. It begins with Walker, a screenwriter living in Vienna, meeting Maris, a model on the run from a potentially violent lover. The two fall in love, and then author Carroll begins leading us and them down bizarre and frightening paths - all the while making sure we're laughing at every twist in the path.
Don't think you've got the tone of this novel figured out; the author's about to pull the rug out from under you. But you'll willingly suspend belief and go along for the magic carpet ride, I betcha.
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on October 17, 2000
This is my favourite book of his and I have read them all--over and over again. The first half of the book will have you liking the characters, wishing you could meet them and go for coffee. They are nice but not too nice-nerdy; they love but not too stupidly. Then the second half begins and you are in Carroll-land. He is so good at what he does and he is also very nice (has a web-site) I realize that he's going into another 'genre' which is not as magical but his talent IS the magic. When I am ill in the hospital, I bring his books--they are so readable and ethereal. Love him and hope to get the next book coming out soon in 2001!
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on July 24, 2000
I'm amazed Carroll hasn't taken off in the US. Most of his earlier works are out of print, which is a shame. He's one of of the most talented authors I've read. Some books have a couple of great lines that really stand out, with Carroll you get that every other page. The man is amazing in his ability to capture the moment between 2 people.
Most of his novels revolve a particular set of folkswhose orbits are somehow tied together. If you like this book I'd suggest Bones of the Moon and Outside the Dog Museum (if you can find them.) Just beware, his books are addicting!
Carroll is a true craftsman of his art.
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on March 11, 2002
The story is similar in theme and style to another of the crazy wisdom writers out there today: Haruki Murakami. Carroll links some suburban fantasy with some interesting Eastern ideas about reincarnation and the good old Brothers Grimm in a manner somewhat related to Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut.
The story gradually unfolds to reveal the core issues we all cringe from: fate and love. The main character gradually comes to terms with his own rather interesting history while trying to keep his magical relationship with his newly-discovered love. Along the way he encounters a very interesting range of characters from Hollywood movie moguls to a Jewish shaman who lives in the suburbs.
Then there is the setting: that magical city of Vienna. Carroll has a lot of fun with his American-in-Europe character and there are some very humourous segments included in the tale. Overall Murakami has done a slightly better job from a stylistic viewpoint but I can't deny that Carrol's book was a lot of fun.
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on August 16, 2001
_Sleeping in Flame_ is a mystic journey, both for the characters seeking to find themselves and for the audience--who, after a few hundred pages, no longer know exactly what to expect from this book, but are absolutely delighted with every unexpected turn. It begins, much like Carroll's other novels, as a regular storyline. Suddenly, though, and without warning we are thrust into the unknown, with the main character. It seems that Carroll is asking us to follow Walker Easterling on his quest to find himself. Just as the characters learn about themselves as characters, readers learn about themselves AS readers. Not only must we encounter the unknown in this book, like Walker, we must manipulate it and force it to help us survive, to help us remain within the domain of at least partial understanding.
I think, above most things, this book is about survival. Walker must encounter a strange new world, with new rules, in order to survive. He must work magic, and sacrifice magic, in order to have his love, Maris York, survive. Ultimately, his desperate attempts at survival threaten the survival of his unborn son. Strange that a book whose main theme relies so much upon reincarnation would simultaneously center itself around the need to survive. In order to live as a normal human being, Walker must admit to himself that he is a fictional character. In order to survive, then, the characters in this novel must realize that they might not exist.
The power of this novel exists beyond the boundaries of the printed page, and might not be completely evident with a first encounter. Nevertheless, _Sleeping in Flame_ is a novel that works on several different levels. On the one hand, it is an entirely satisfying fantasy novel, complete with memorable characters and a quickly evolving plot. On the other, it offers an interpretation of reading, writing, survival, death and love that I find particularly poignant. One of the most delightful parts of this novel, though, is the way in which these interpretations are presented to the reader. Carroll is a most subtle writer when it comes to philosophy. Readers may want to think deeply about some of the thematic issues that arise from this novel. Or they can just toss them aside and enjoy it as a well-crafted fantasy story. We, as readers, have the power to decide how much we want to put into this novel. Carroll just sits back, with the knowing smirk he displays on the back cover, and waits for us to make our own decisions.
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on December 30, 1999
When i first read this book almost 10 years ago, i bored all my friends telling them it was the best piece of fiction published in decades. I just finished it last night for the 2nd time and although some of its shortcomings are more evident to me now, it still blows me away - it brings together archetypal themes and myths and meshes them into this compelling modern life setting. Shortcomings: weak character development, namely the primary relationship b/w Maris and Walker is slightly unbelievable - ok, so she's a supermodel, but what else? why does Walker fall for her? also, the dialogue is not that smooth at times. But it still doesn't matter, b/c jon carroll does such a great job at sucking you into this hip euro coolworld and then knocks you over w/, well, the magic. i've read all of his books (no easy job, given the scarcity of his novels - and why is that? ) and this is my favorite. also, i'm not in the movie biz, but it's Hard not to imagine great scenes / camera angles / actors while reading this book. Jon Carroll - if you're reading this, contact me if you're in NYC!
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on October 9, 2002
In Carroll's masterpiece, Sleeping in Flame, what begins as a brooding,witty and bittersweet novel--think Paul Auster or Haruki Murakami--about a film actor and his desire for the beautiful and androgynous Maris York, has,by its end, traversed a world of shamans and sea monsters in an astonishing
reworking of the Grimm tale "Rumpelstiltskin."
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on January 31, 2001
I've only read two books by Jonathan Carroll so far, this one and The Voice of Our Shadow. This is my favorite of the two, mainly because Voice of Our Shadow is closer to being a true horror novel. And I don't usually read horror. But Sleeping in Flame is one of the finest fantasies I've ever read-- Extremely fine. Consider this: The hero of Sleeping in Flame has professional ties to the movie industry. As the story begins, he's walking down a city street when he looks back. A strange little man is trying to run him down on a bicycle! The story becomes one of self discovery for the hero as he tries to unravel the mystery of the strange little guy. Typical? Nope. This Carroll guy has one truly strange story in mind, and the vision to inject it with some of the most wonder-filled moments ever. Good luck guessing the end to this twisty maze!
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on November 21, 1996
This book was one of the best Christmas presents I've ever
received. My friend Howie has a knack for introducing me to
books I should read, bands I should listen to, movies I should
see; he's got great taste. Well, I wasn't sure when he gave
me Carroll's book. It's definitely outside of the realm of
what I normally read, it's not science fiction! What was he
thinking!?!?! Well, trusting Howie's taste, I gave it a try.
4 am that morning I put it down (reluctantly). As usual my
horizons have been broadened thanks to my friend, now I just have
to convince my wallet to forgive him for forcing me to buy
another author's bibliography. Oh about the Vienna comment...
I must criticize Carroll for one thing, every character of his
absolutely reveres Vienna! So, he must be collecting royalties
from the Vienna Board of Tourism.
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on December 5, 2000
This is a phenomenal book. Carroll creates characters you care about and can relate to. You get to know them well before Carroll twists the world sideways and suddenly the characters and you are trapped in a fairy-tale nightmare where Rumpelstilskin and Little Red Riding Hood are both monstrous threats to love and life. Magical and haunting, the ending frightens in a subtle way, leaving you thinking about it for a while, then the meaning dawns on you and fear forms like ice up your spine. Jonathan Carroll is one of the great unappreciated American authors living today.
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