The Woman Who Married a Cloud
by Jonathan Carroll
Cover Artist: Ryder Carroll
Review by Mario Guslandi
Subterranean Press Deluxe Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596064942
Date: 31 July 2012
Better known for his surreal novels ( The Land of Laughs, Sleeping in Flame, A Child Across the Sky, Outside the Dog Museum, From the Teeth of Angels and others) Jonathan Carroll is also author of a bunch of short stories, many of which have been previously collected in the Bram Stoker Award winning The Panic Hand.
The Woman Who Married a Cloud is a hefty collection of 37 stories, assembling all of Carroll’s short fiction, featuring the twenty stories that formerly appeared in The Panic Hand plus recent material.
Commenting upon the single tales included in the present volume would be a cumbersome and useless venture, especially when some of the stories (such as World Fantasy Award winning "Friend's Best Man" and Pushcart Prize nominated "Home on the Rain") are cult tales well known to fantasy readers.
Carroll, an American writer who has relocated to Vienna, is certainly one of the major contemporary fantasists, whose work ranges from horror to magic realism, from weird fiction to the downright bizarre.
His characters include angels and talking dogs as well as human beings trying to cope with an elusive and deceptive reality. Sometimes the story starts out with a quite normal situation and develops through a nightmarish chain of events, as in "The Dead Love You" where a trivial car accident quickly engulfs a woman in a series of disturbing occurrences featuring the obnoxious albino driver. Other times, as in "East of Furious", a simply ordinary conversation brings about references to incredible, surrealistic characters and circumstances.
Carrol can be sometimes irritating when the weirdness of his plots becomes overwhelming, sometimes entirely spellbinding, like a snake-charmer skillfully displaying his power. Certainly, he's never dull or obvious. Readers may like or hate his work, but can never remain indifferent or unimpressed.
This collection provides an unique opportunity to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the body of short fiction by a remarkable author. You'd better seize this opportunity and plunge into Carroll's off-beat world.
But, if you care for your sanity, just savor one story at the time, or you’ll find yourself in a maelstrom so powerful to make you drown.