SLEEPING IN FLAME by Jonathan Carroll


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More fantastical imaginings from Carroll (Bones of the Moon, 1987, etc.), this time a fractured fairy tale about an American screenwriter/actor trapped in a particularly insidious version of Rumpelstiltskin. Life begins to get weird for narrator Walker Easterling shortly after he meets and falls in love with Maris York, lanky sculptor and former top model, in Munich. Wishing to flee her abusive ex-boyfriend, Maris moves with Walker to his adopted home city of Vienna, where they meld like yin and yang and set up happy house, disturbed by only a few odd happenings: a long-bearded man riding a bike nearly runs Walker down; Walker's best pal is murdered by terrorists; Maris finds a grave capped with the photo of a man who's Walker's spitting image: Moritz Benedikt--is he a link to the real parents of Walker, who was a foundling? The weird gets even weirder, though, when Walker and Maris fly to California for a two-week film-acting gig. There, Walker meets Venasque, a "shaman" who keeps a pet pig and convinces Walker that he, Walker, possesses great magical powers--powers that manifest in Walker's conjuring up a sea serpent off the L.A. coast, flashing on possible futures, dreaming of past lives. Finally, back in Vienna, life gets ultraweird as Walker is visited by Venasque's pet pig--now talking--and slowly makes his way out of the incredible maze into which he's been thrust by fate: he, it turns out, is none other than the adopted son of Rumpelstiltskin (here, a real-life wizard co-opted by the Grimms for their tale), doomed to incarnate incessantly (as Benedikt, etc.) and be killed every time by his father--until he at last meets a perfect love (Maris) who can (and here does) save him. Fever-dream writing: many vivid images, and told at a brisk clip, but full of superfluous subplots, illogical developments, and portentous meaning. Really quite silly overall: not Carroll's best.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1989
ISBN: 385-24957-8
Publisher: Doubleday
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