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THE MARRIAGE OF STICKS by Jonathan Carroll

THE MARRIAGE OF STICKS

By Jonathan Carroll

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-87193-7
Publisher: Tor

New fantasy from the author of Kissing the Beehive (1998), etc. New York City rare-book dealer Miranda Romanac, heading for LAX and her flight home, glimpses an old woman in a wheelchair on the freeway—and thinks the woman might be herself. Soon after, at a class reunion in Connecticut, Miranda is shocked to learn that her old high school flame, James Stillman, died three years ago in a car crash. When she embarks on an ecstatic affair with charming art expert Hugh Oakley (married with children), she sees James Stillman’s ghost on the street. Hugh’s wife finds out about the affair—Hugh is a serial adulterer, she says—but the relationship continues. The two move into an old house on the Hudson—a house that swarms with confusing ghosts. Miranda learns she’s pregnant, but when Hugh comes home that night, he dies of a heart attack before she can tell him. At this point, an adult ghost of James Stillman appears. Fate, says James, is fixed, but Miranda somehow can change things. She was, in fact, supposed to have helped straighten out young bad boy James’s life; and Hugh, furthermore, was meant to go back to his wife and avoid the coronary. Soon, Miranda finds herself trapped in the house, forced to relive dozens of interconnected lives, feeling the hostility of those she’s maltreated. Why? Well, she’s a vampire, feeding on the essences of other people’s lives while giving nothing in return. Now, though, she has a chance to change matters. Intriguing, up to a point, but the concept won’t wash (Miranda’s no more selfish or self-centered than anyone else), and the question of who’s really in charge remains unanswered. Upshot: a problematic parable.