Travels through a Toxic Shock Nightmare

Debut author Hoover’s intensely personal, wryly playful chronicle of his internal journey through the landscapes of his confused mind during an extended hospitalization for sepsis and toxic shock syndrome.
Hoover describes his experiences without the trappings of hallucination: no soft, fuzzy imagery or language evoking fugue states, but rather a knack for clever worldbuilding and the relentless coloring of dream logic. In this curious blend of medical memoir and magical realism, Hoover lays down a variety of memories and hallucinations. He imagines himself not in Charlotte, N.C. where he lives and is from, but in Manhattan, escaping there after being reconstructed with chicken legs and half a face at a rogue Confederate hospital full of body parts on conveyor belts. He abandons his wife on a South Dakota tarmac and greets the birth of a child who’s actually a tiny bean. Later, he sees his wife’s death written on the monitor at the foot of his bed and, in South Dakota, escapes attacks by Dog People and Native American boys with broken glass. As Hoover gradually becomes more lucid, his memories turn toward petty frustrations with hospital staff, medications and his body’s own limitations; although the same sense of humor runs through the writing, these passages feel more interested in amusing readers than the exuberantly creative earlier chapters. Chapter headers reference information about sepsis—“Supplemental oxygen should be supplied to all patients with sepsis and oxygenation should be monitored continuously with pulse oximetry”—and provide other keys to his personality through lyrics from U2, the Beatles and others. Aside from an assortment of crude black-and-white illustrations, Hoover offers refreshingly pure, imaginative storytelling, free of the musings on mortality, broader criticisms of the medical system or feel-good survivor’s advice often found in patient memoirs. Yet at more than 500 pages, the book is an exercise in completist documentation; a more tightly edited version could still offer readers a strong sense of his character as he traverses the minefields of his internal universe.
A fascinating tour through the escapist fantasies of an everyday brain in an exceptional crisis.

Pub Date: March 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492966944

Page Count: 590

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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