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The Ghost in Love


The Ghost in Love

Prepare to give up any connection with Real Life rules and
associations as you open this surreal tale that weaves a slapstick
interpretation of the afterlife with a heartfelt love story. The
book opens with a ghost yearning for an unattainable object of
adoration, a woman named German Landis. Luckily, the ghost, while
spending lots of time cooking meals for German (that she will never
eat or even see), has a dog named Pilot to chat with about this
unrequited love.

German has recently broken up with her lover, Ben Gould.
Although she left him because he had begun acting strangely, she
still longs for him. The beginning of their relationship was
magically passionate and intense. Back then, Ben found an elderly
dog named Methuselah at the animal shelter as a surprise for his
new love. On the walk to present the dog to German, though, Ben
took a serious fall. He not only could have died --- he
should have died. Instead, he awakens, goes into the
hospital and eventually recovers.

That near-miss death has bizarre supernatural repercussions.
Ben's ghost lurked about him in confusion immediately after the
accident. The Angel of Death shows up in a diner to discuss the
situation with the ghost. The Angel appears incognito, as the
leftovers of a customer's bacon and eggs, while Ben's ghost is
manifested as a big black fly buzzing in and around the egg yolk.
The Angel's theory is that something similar to a computer virus
has infected the heaven's equivalent of a computer system. He
suggests it may be the fellows in Hell who have glitched up the
works. The Angel suggests that Ben’s ghost should hang around
with Ben since the ghost is stuck on earth anyway and must wait
until the virus problem is fixed. Maybe, the Angel suggests, the
ghost can somehow guide Ben to be a better person.

When Ben gets home from the hospital, though, he acts so
strangely that German regretfully leaves him. The two share custody
of Methuselah, now named Pilot. Although both German and Ben long
for each other, they constantly misfire instead of connect whenever
they're together. Meanwhile, the Angel of Death again consults with
Ben's ghost (whose name, we learn, is Ling) in a movie theater.
Today, the Angel is a middle-aged balding man who chomps on popcorn
and loves Hitchcock. Afterward, the two go for pizza.

In the pizzeria, they see a couple of familiar people: Ben and
German, who are back in the past when their relationship was
glorious. German recommends the pizza known as the Titanic to the
newcomers. When an odorous homeless man enters the restaurant, Ben
gives him pizza and the Angel of Death addresses the stranger by
name, resulting in an act of violence. And then the plot gets
really strange, as characters and times loop around and
through each other in a dizzying manner.

There's no doubt that readers must suspend all disbelief when
entering a Jonathan Carroll zone. The wondrous thing is that,
thanks to Carroll's matter-of-fact, understated writing, his
bizarre characters and plots somehow weave together into a mostly
plausible (if you don't think too hard about it), entertaining,
hilarious and sometimes oddly touching whole.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon ( on January 22, 2011

The Ghost in Love
by Jonathan Carroll

  • Publication Date: September 30, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374161860
  • ISBN-13: 9780374161866