Expatriate Carroll returns to Dreamville and the joys of a 500-channel imagination that flips from anystation to anystation while brightening the experience into drops of blood on a beadstring.
Wonderland in White Apples is Deathworld, a kind of Afterlife Airlines flight magazine of places to see on the aftermap, although Carroll’s characters have zip religious backgrounds to guide them through the astral. Philandering American adman Vincent Ettrich, quite brilliant at his trade, either leaves his wife Kitty and kids to cleave to his great, sublime Viennese beauty Isabelle Neukor (“three-quarters perfection, one-quarter broken glass”), whom he later learns is pregnant with his child—or else Kitty divorces him for his womanizing. Then something horrible happens—which we’ll get to. Isabelle takes offense at Vincent’s reason for leaving Kitty and abandons him to his perfectly sterile new apartment for three months. During that period, Vincent falls for Cocoa Hallis, takes her to a restaurant where he and she are approached by Vincent’s fellow adman Bruno Mann. Vincent goes outdoors to answer his cell phone, is told by Kitty that Bruno’s wife has just called her to tell her that Bruno died. Thus the Bruno talking to Coco inside is . . . well, dead. Later, Vincent finds BRUNO MANN tattooed onto the back of Coco’s neck. My God, Coco is dead too! though looking much alive. As it happens, Vincent himself died of cancer some weeks ago and is now being led about the astral by Coco, who explains to him that if he wants to return to life he must remember what happened to him when he died. Isabelle and her amazing polyphormous fetus bring back the pulseless Vincent, and together they recall rooms, restaurants and childhood memories and piece together and visit astral places, parents and grandparents. Meanwhile, hate-filled Bruno blocks their return to Realville.
A variation on Carroll’s From the Teeth of Angels (1994). Its strong charms grip without quite moving the reader.