and short story
writer whose imaginative and quirky works defy genre
categorization. Carroll has lived in Vienna
, for years, and is much better known in Europe than in the United States. Some of Carroll's writings lean toward horror, others mystery or fantasy. He calls them "fairy tales
for adults." Author Neil Gaiman
, who wrote the introduction at the Jonathan Carroll web site, describes his turf as magical realism
Carroll has a very distinctive voice. His books are a breeze to read, but exploring their subtle moral complexity requires a closer look. They often plop a fantastical element down in the middle of a real world situation, and are populated by intriguing characters, often rather untrustworthy narrators. A minor character in one book will frequently become the protagonist in a future story. And there are lots of talking animals, especially dogs... especially bull terriers.
His first novel, and the first I read, The Land of Laughs, tells the story of a young writer who goes to the hometown of his favorite children's book author, recently deceased. He wants to write about the author, but discovers that things in the town are not what they seem… Books about books and writing, and their magic, are always special, and the twist at the end of this one left me cheering.
Another terrific book is Bones of the Moon, in which a rich dream life guides a young woman (and readers) through the guilt of an earlier abortion. This book has tremendous meaning for many people; Carroll's cult following communicates via a discussion list named after the dream world in the book, Rondua.
Jonathan Carroll's novels and novellas:
The Land of Laughs
Voice of Our Shadow
Bones of the Moon
Sleeping in Flame
A Child across the Sky
Outside the Dog Museum
From the Teeth of Angels
The Marriage of Sticks
The Heidelberg Cylinder (was published in limited release and sold online only)
The Wooden Sea
A collection of wonderful short stories, The Panic Hand, is also available.
Carroll was born in New York City in 1949. His father, Sidney, was a screenwriter whose most famous work was The Hustler. His mother, June, was a Broadway theater actress. He graduated cum laude from Rutgers in 1971, and earned a Masters degree at the University of Virginia in 1973. He taught in the U.S. briefly before moving with his wife and son to Vienna, where he teaches English at the American International School.
Interviews, reviews, the full text of a number of stories, and an interactive question and answer discussion with Jonathan Carroll can be found at his official web site: www.jonathancarroll.com.