Jonathan Carroll's The Ghost in Love: magical and wonderful fantasy novel about ghosts and love and nostalgia

Jonathan Carroll's latest novel, The Ghost in Love is the latest of thirteen genuinely magical fantasy novels in which the author makes magic the way Fred Astaire danced: effortless, simple, wondrous.

In the Ghost in Love, Ben and his girlfriend German have just broken up a long-term relationship that seems to have been as wonderful as love can be (Carroll has a special gift for bringing happy family relations to life). Now they are on the outs, and sharing custody of Pilot, their shelter-dog, and every time they meet to swap the dog, their hearts break anew.

Ben should have died the day he got the dog, when he slipped on ice and broke his head. But he didn't. So the Angel of Death sent Ben's ghost, Ling, to earth, to investigate why the universe has stopped obeying its divine destiny. Ling is hopelessly in love with German, and the ghost is also a fantastic cook (as is Ben), so whenever German is due to come over, Ling spends the whole day cooking elaborate, invisible meals for her, while chatting morosely with the dog (all ghosts speak Dog).

That's all in the first few pages. Then it gets weird.

Carroll's standard formula for his novels is to introduce us to wonderful people living magical blessed lives, lives so achingly rendered that you want to crawl into the page and snuggle under the covers with them. Then he smashes their lives like sand-castles, and his wonderful people fall apart while magic unmakes them, rewriting the rules of their world to reveal hidden truths about love, family, self-regard, self-loathing, and other emotionally charged subjects.

In Ghost in Love, Carroll does this again, but even moreso, using a kind of dreamlike fluidity to constantly rewrite the rules of his world and its magic as evil and good tear apart the lives of Ben, German, Pilot and Ling and the people around them. The story grows ever-more existential, allegorical and weird as the pages fly past.

But it's all handled so gracefully that the dream-logic never falters. Carroll is the omnipotent god of his characters and situations, and he is totally in control of every variable, so that we trust him throughout, even though he never plays fair.

And the message, the conclusion in the end? Without spoiling things, I'll say this: The Ghost in Love contains genuinely profound and illuminating truths about the way that we love others and ourselves, and about the power of owning up to your bad deeds, and about the danger and wonder of nostalgia for our simpler pasts.

I've read and enjoyed all thirteen of Carroll's novels, and this one is going right on the shelf with the others, and will occupy the same oft-visited part of my mental landscape wherein dwell his other magical books.

The Ghost in Love on Amazon, The Ghost in Love, author's site with free first chapter

Wonkette: Jesus people pray that false idol will save God’s economy


(Photo by Wonkette operative “Dan the Man”.)

Wonkette posted this interesting photo of people worshipping the golden calf Wall Street bull in order to save the stock market. Here's what PZ Myers had to say about it:

Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” Well here they are, at the Wall Street bull statue thing, praying to Jesus for money. The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”
Exodus 32:
8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Jesus people pray that false idol will save God’s economy

Spy vs. Spy and MAKE:

 Make16 Seen here is the magnificent cover of the new issue of MAKE:. The theme is, obviously, DIY spy tech. The cover and interior illustrations were created by none other than MAD Magazine art director Sam Viviano. Wow.
MAKE: Vol. 16, Spy Tech

Bob Harris' photo diary of a trip to the North Korea border

Rob Harris, who wrote the wonderfully entertaining books Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! and Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide took a trip to the North Korean border area and send his photos and comments to friends. He was kind of enough to allow us to run them on Boing Boing.

En route from Seoul, there are numerous large war monuments, which is hardly surprising, since technically the war still hasn't ended. Fortunately, most of the major ones are collected in one big depressing park, great for your getting-dispirited-about-the-human-condition convenience.

Here's one commemorating the "Ten Human Bombs":


I probably don't need to explain how the Ten Human Bombs met their end.

I also hope you don't see any resemblance to the overwrought posing of 1980s power-rock bands. That would be disresectful. Humming anything by Night Ranger, Twisted Sister, or Whitesnake while looking at this picture would be just wrong.

When you get up close to the border, the first thing you hit is Imjingak, where the Freedom Bridge is located.


That old railroad bridge is where 13,000 POWs were released by N. Korea and allowed to walk south. Thus the name.

The walkway to the bridge is now closed off, for obvious reasons. But if you peek through the coin-operated tourist binoculars, you can actually make out patrols in huts on the far side of the bridge.


There's a goofy sculpture of an armed peacekeeper at the beginning of the walkway, so it seemed fun to get my picture with it. Little did I realize where I'd be posing shortly.

Read the rest

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets

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Today at Boing Boing Gadgets, we learned that TiVo owners will get Netflix streaming, that Dell's making a new All-in-One desktop computer, and that people will go to any lengths in pursuit of gaming cake. Oh, and the eleventh commandment: Thou Shalt Not Use Caps Lock.

John found the Kangaroom gamer sofa saddlebag, a finger-mounted bolt tightener, and an awe-inspiring Russian speaker made from an old fire extinguisher. Mimes pretending to be Human vending machines did not please him, but the amazing Bickford, a razorblade robot, certainly did.

Rob spotted a shocking handheld game, a 3G Compaq netbook for Europe, and a nice bottle of USB Port. He donned a chainmail shirt from ThinkGeek, sat in a Hobart I-Cool supervillain chair, and throttled himself with a Papal USB Drive.

There was a handheld computer from Aigo; a gorgeous tech demo for a forthcoming Wii game; Lego halloween minifigs; and a crazy accordian refrigerator.

We read Lisa Katayama's explanation of why Japanese cell phones are no fun, listened to fantastic remixes of BBC theme tunes, and discovered Asus is making an Android phone.

Do you want to know what a rectal retractor is? Probably not.

Boing Boing Gadgets

Magpie Time, a new craft show for kids

My friend Pat Roberts has created a new kid's craft show which features Pat's ingenious creations made from everyday stuff. Here's a teaser video with instructions for making a cute owl. Magpie Time

Onion headline from 1993: Roy The Forklift Driver addresses nation


The May 29, 1993 edition of The Onion has a preposterous fake story about a character named Roy the Forklift driver becoming a media darling of the conservative movement.

"Nation Eagerly awaits Ohio Man's Profound Insights into Current Events."

As if!

Roy the Forklift Driver

Ivory anatomical manikin

Joanna at the wonderful Morbid Anatomy blog posted this exquisite ivory anatomical manikin, circa 1500-1700. It's part of the National Library of Medicine's fantastic Dream Anatomy online exhibition. From the manikin description:
 Exhibition Dreamanatomy Images 1200-Dpi Y2 These manikins, between 6 to 7 inches in length, were made from solid pieces of ivory. The arms were carved separately and are moveable. The thoracic and abdominal walls can be removed, revealing the viscera. In some manikins the internal organs are carved in the original block and are not removable, while they are formed into separate pieces that can be removed.
Ivory anatomical manikin

Previously on BB:
• Antique ivory skull statuettes

Video of happy man vigorously swinging baby around room

Hard to believe this is real, but it sure seems like it. Sporty Babysitter of the Year

Binder clipper makes for nice iPhone stand

Iphonecradle Iphonestand2

Jeff Staple posted photos of his co-worker's simple but effective iPhone stand -- a binder clipper. Crafty iPhone Stand

BBtv: Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo, part 1

Oh, man, this is weird. How do we explain this? Okay. So, the Boing Boing tv team planned a series of episodes about Japanese monsters for Halloween, and for this purpose, we sent Sean Bonner to Tokyo, armed with a video camera. The plan was: meet up with Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda, authors of the previosly-boinged book Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and hunt down the truth about mythical monstrous creatures from Japanese folklore.

We'd planned to start our Japanese monster series with a hunt for the Kappa, a water-dwelling, ninja-turtle-like, child-sized creature who is fond of cucumbers and human colon meat (I'm not making this up). Legend says the Kappa will reach into your butt to eat your colon, which is grosstastically awesome.

Anyway -- Sean made it to Tokyo, and shot evidence of the Kappa on Japan's urban streets (signs, blow-up Kappa dolls, stickers). But then, suddenly, the raw footage he was FTPing to us nightly just STOPPED. Bam. Just like that. And with it, all evidence we had of Sean's whereabouts and well-being.

Today's BBtv episode is part one of what we hope will be a two-part series on Kappa Hunting in Tokyo. IF HE SURVIVED. Sean, if you can read this, I sure hope you were armed with cucumbers. The alternative is too horrible to imagine.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast. Here's the direct MP4 link in case you can't deal with Flash video. Whatever you do, don't miss Sean dancing the Kappa Dance at 05:41.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Japanese monsters, and how to survive their wrath: YOKAI ATTACK

Portraits made from type


Veja magazine ran a series of advertisements featuring portraits of people composed of typographical characters. George Bush ads Flickr set (via Print)

Display of bad things swallowed

The artful syringe photo from the United States Narcotic Farm that Mark posted earlier reminded Joel of this display at the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. The museum holds memorabilia from the St. Joseph State Hospital, previously known as the State Lunatic Asylum #2. From Roadside America:
 Attract Images Mo MostjswallowedThere is an imaginative arrangement of 1,446 items swallowed by a patient and removed from her intestines and stomach. She died during surgery from bleeding caused by 453 nails, 42 screws, safety pins, spoon tops, and salt and pepper shaker tops.
Glore Psychiatric Museum

Cell phone thief takes phonecam shot of himself

This Cincinnati, Ohio gentleman snatched a cell phone from a lost, deaf woman who had gotten out of her car to look for a street sign. Later, Gary Walker, 24, took a phonecam shot of himself. A few weeks after the robbery, the victim, Ashlee Hutchens, downloaded her data from the phone network into a new handset and Walker's photo popped up. Police then sent it out to the media and subsequently arrested Walker. From Cincinnati Enquirer:
Thiefbildeeee “All of a sudden his picture came up and (Ashlee) said, ‘Oh my god, Mom, that’s him and that’s the shirt he had on,’” Christine Hutchens said.

“I get very upset when the elderly, kids or handicapped people become victims of these offenses,” said Officer Tamar Skelly, who is with Crime Stoppers.
Cell phone suspect in cell (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

Previously on BB:
Guy who auto-uploaded pix of self turns in hot Mac
Photo taken on stolen Nokia uploaded to Flickr

Creepy fake wrist cutter commercial

Creepy fake commercial for wrist cutting knives from the movie Tokyo Gore Police. (Via Japan Probe)