A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY by Jonathan Carroll


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Maddening mythodetective fantastification that blends Luis Bunuel's pop-up surrealism with García Márquez's magic realism against a horror-movie background, by the author of Bones of the Moon (1987). In a Carroll novel, as in a Lewis Carroll one, anything can happen at any time and need not be explained. Plot emerges thematically, not logically, time gets tangled, and it's not unusual for a mentally retarded child suddenly to float up to the rooftops. Carroll never fits out the wonderful with lead boots labeled CAUSE and EFFECT. His voice, however, is pitched less to amuse than to play against our cynical preconceptions as adults, while his story slithers forward with unquestioning acceptance of the curiouser and curiouser. His novels seem to have one main plot: a morally invidious character seeks oneness with a superior character. Here, Philip Strayhorn, a director of horror films, commits suicide just as he has almost finished Midnight Kills, the fourth in his Bloodstone series. His best friend, director Weber Gregston, who has quit the movies (despite an Oscar for his warmhearted work), runs off the footage of Midnight Kills, then is offered the job of completing his friend's flasher epic. Gregston has been devoting himself to a Cancer Theater production in Manhattan, whose actors are all terminally ill, and sees a use for giving some of his cancer actors movie immortality (or temporary futures) in his remixing and new scenes for Midnight Kills. Meanwhile, his life is invaded by mythic figures from the childhood dreamland of Rondua (first spelled out in Bones of the Moon, 1988) who lay heavy costs on him if he fails to lift Midnight Kills out of the Strayhorn schlockpile, to give evil a human beauty and allow us to love evil through his artistry. The path to this final effect is by way of reediting all of Strayhorn's Bloodstone films with Gregston's films, making a sort of warmblooded Jekyll/coldblooded Hyde master film that joins Strayhorn and Gregston into one celluloid being. Chic passages, fits and starts of interest, and a feeble climax.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday